Sacred Cows, Destructive Heros and Squitters

We all know of them or we like to say “others” have them. But when is the last time you assessed if any are living inside of your organization?

Sacred Cows

No one is untouchable in our organization. Moo – I don’t know what we would do without [Insert your employee of choices name here], I’d be lost without them. Moo – They have been here since the beginning… You get the idea. Or as a client once told me “My father would haunt me from the grave if we terminated X.”

Cows can be heavy, they can often slow movement in the organization and they can drag it to a halt. When dealing with Cows it is important to way the cost associated with keeping them. I often ask managers what they would do if the Cow was hit by a bus/won the lottery. The common response I receive is that the organization would lose critical knowledge, history and insights about the business.

Get out in front of the bus and the lottery drawing, create a process or utilize a tool to capture the Cows key insights.

Destructive Heroes

We first heard of the term Destructive Heroes a number of years ago from Dave Sullivan, the Managing Partner at The Shamrock Group, Inc., in Denver Co. 

With a DH, we are wowed by their ability to exceed our expectations, KPI’s and project timelines. How does our DH do it? Turnover in his department is 3x’s worse than other areas of the business. The other departments are avoiding interacting with our DH but his numbers are twice as good.

These are telltale signs that an organization has a Destructive Hero on their hands. DH’s are notorious for exceeding goals all the while leaving a blazing path of destruction and flames behind them.

Specifically name the area of opportunity for your DH. Are they aware of it is the first question, the second is, are they and you willing to do something about it? DH’s are rare creatures; some organizations will forgo tough conversations in order to reap the short term gains of their DH.
How much destruction are we okay with? At what point does the destruction cripple the organization?


Productivity slowly decreases, voluntary participation and engagement are noticeably lacking. Extra effort is no longer placed on work tasks. You may have a squitter on your hands. Those individuals that have quit but have not actually left the building.

Was your Squitter once a shining star inside your organization? What has changed? Some squitters do not agree with major changes inside their organization; a new manager, a new policy or a new department initiative. Other squitters may no longer be connecting with their role. Their passions may have changed or focused onto something else.

Getting your sqitters to stand up or leave will require you to have probing conversations. Put your detective hat on to find them and then to identify root cause. Create action plans to move them forward or to create an exit strategy.

The question, “Would you enthusiastically re-hire your Cows, Destructive Hero’s and Squitters again?“

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