Ahhhh, the loose cannon in the workplace. In my leadership experiences, everyone has one. The Wall Street Journal reports that 98% of workers experience incivility on the job, with 50% reporting they engage in rude exchanges at least weekly. This is the work of the loose cannon.
What exactly is a Loose Cannon?
This individual walks around the workplace crushing people left and right. They are toxic. If you don’t know what a toxic worker is, it is someone who harms the organization from a fiscal or human capital viewpoint. From a leadership perspective, an organization’s people are its biggest competitive advantage. Toxic workers seem to induce others to be toxic. In facts, evidence suggests that a toxic worker can have more impact on performance than a “superstar.” It may be that spending more time limiting negative impacts on an organization might improve everyone’s outcome to a greater extent than only focusing on increasing positive impacts.
What do you DO with a Loose Cannon?
Well, there are two options available to you.
Option 1: Do Nothing.
You can let them go, and the problem will go away instantly. Not.
Option 2: Get to work.
You can develop the individual. Yes, this means work, but it can be done and I am here to help. Most toxic workers I have dealt with did not even realize the negative impact they were having on others in the workplace. Their behavior was not intentional.
If you chose Option 2, and I hope you did, then let’s get started with some assessments and coaching to gain self-awareness and foster growth!
The EQ-i 2.0 is an excellent way to get a picture of how one operates emotionally, one’s areas of strength and potential areas for development.
The Hogan suite of assessments predicts one’s potential performance in the workplace based on strengths, weaknesses, values, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, both the EQ-i and Hogan assessments measure one’s normal personality characteristics and career derailment risks. Yes, everybody has derailers and will derail in some situation. The Hogan assessment can help gain self-awareness and identify derailing behaviors that disrupt or interfere with effective performance.
Another assessment is the EQ-i 360. This survey can include feedback from superiors, direct reports, and peers and would give the individual being rated a greater perspective on how they are performing.
With these assessments done we can then begin coaching effectively.
Bringing in a coach helps the individual understand the data from the assessments and gain a better picture of how others “see” them. With this information and understanding the “loose cannon” can then realize the need to learn and change to improve performance or behavior. When this moment of self-discovery happens, the learning and developmental journey can begin.
But wait, Jonathan, how do you avoid being a loose cannon yourself?
I’m so glad you asked.
- Know yourself and know how you impact others. They have to live with you. How do you think they experience it?
- Know your strengths and areas that need development. Understand what frustrates you and what doesn’t. Everyone has a derailer; no one is perfectly composed all the time.
- Understand what your derailers are so you can work on measures to counter them with a coach, peer, supervisor, or mentor. The most mature and composed leaders have an understanding of themselves, their impact on others, and their detailers.
The Bridge 3 Coaching Team is ready to help you understand how others experience you and how you can improve your emotional intelligence to obtain a more positive work environment which leads to better results.