The Energy Vampire

GE and Amazon are well known for regularly rewarding their top performers and exiting those struggling at the bottom. It creates a competitive results-oriented culture.

At the Taproot Foundation we did a different analysis as a management team. The performance of individuals was critical to our work, but our bigger concern was the performance of the team, not any single individual.

You can be an awesome individual performer and hit all your numbers but that fails to tell the story of how those working with you thrived. How do we measure your impact on the team?

There are certain people in an organization who may be great performers but no one wants to work with them. You dread meeting with them. They suck the life out of the team.

At Taproot, we called them Energy Vampires and as a management team and decided to have a frank regular conversation to identify if any of them were working in our ranks.

The first time we asked the question we realized 10% of our organization were energy sucking vampires. There was no real discussion about it. When someone named a potential vampire everyone vehemently agreed. It wasn't subtle.

It was hard to transition them all out given that several of them were strong individual contributors, but within a few months they were all gone - back to Transylvania.

And a funny thing happened at the next few management team meetings. We couldn't name a single Energy Vampire left in the organization and everyone reported better morale and results.

Employee engagement and retention increased by over 25%. We saw collaboration and innovation increase. Political nonsense went way down.

After a year or two we realized that the one time purge had done more than identify these energy suckers, it trained us to screen for these vampires in interviews and we stopped hiring them.

We spend a lot of time and money on strategies for employee engagement and retention but we don't address the most important issue. Much of the value we get from work is through relationships. If we want engaged and fulfilled teams, we need to purge the Energy Vampires. It is the job of leadership to provide our teams with colleagues that they love to see when they arrive in the morning.

The Energy Vampire

Do you have Energy Vampires in your organization? It might be painful but nothing will do more for employee engagement than showing them the door.

About the Author

Aaron Hurst
Aaron Hurst is the author of the Purpose Economy.  He is the CEO of Imperative and founder of the Taproot Foundation. 

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