Destructive heroes in the dealership

We may love destructive anti-heroes in our movies and TV shows, but they’re a lot less amusing in the dealership; we don’t think about the cities ruined in the hero’s wake, because yay, the hero won! But in your business, you’re heavily invested in what’s left behind.

Destructive heroes are typically high performers and the results they bring are through the roof. However, they are egotists who work towards their own self-serving goals. They are the opposite of a team player and often intimidate co-workers to achieve results, which will drive away other good employees – especially if the employees confront you about the problem and nothing is done to fix the environment. Destructive heroes may even threaten management to do as they command or they’ll leave and take customers with them.

In short, destructive heroes are jerks. And yet they often keep their jobs for years. Why do we put up with these employees? It all comes back to the first point: they produce fantastic results. They’re a rock star salesperson or a service technician so efficient they appear otherworldly. They are almost unrecognizable until it’s too late.

At this point, some of you may be nodding your head and thinking of a current or former employee who meets the description. Others may not recognize these traits in any one employee. If so, good for you! Because a destructive hero will often cost your dealership more than they make for it – monetary costs and costs to morale.

Can these destructive heroes be converted? You certainly don’t want to lose a hardworking, efficient employee and firing them may seem like an unrealistic option, but it’s also not worth keeping them if it is at the expense of the rest of your staff and your business.

An editorial by John Grossmann goes into further detail on how to spot a destructive hero and suggestions for confronting the problem, but it notes that destructive heroes are rare to reform. If you have a destructive hero in your midst, you may have some tough decisions to make in your near future.

I would love to hear from dealers or anyone else who has worked with or managed a destructive hero. How did their behavior affect the rest of the team? What did you do to resolve the problem? Did the destructive hero reform? (To protect privacy, I strongly suggest anyone who replies to not reveal the name of the destructive hero).

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