In my last post I discussed some of the big warning signs that we may be losing our fans (see: Warning signs you are losing your fans).  I’ve gotten quite a response!  I received the following story:

“I work in retail and I see this all too often.  I’ll give you a great example.  I work for a chain of clothing stores.  One of our high-end flagship stores had a particularly strong ‘rock star.’  She was exceptional at making high-end sales and placing custom orders for clients.  Our corporate office issued a new policy requiring that we also begin to ‘sell’ our store credit card to customers.  This rock star refused. Corporate asked her, cajoled her, even wrote her up and requested that she get coaching / counseling to shift her behavior / attitude.  She continued to refuse stating it was ‘below (her).’  Last week she was fired.”

Sometimes the warning signs are very clear to everyone else, but not to us.  Here are some additional examples of warning signs that were shared with me over the past week:

  • You are formally written up – I’m sorry, this is a “no brainer.”  But all too often, the rock star just looks the other way as if this formal reprimand really doesn’t mean anything.  “I’m a rock star and they need me around here.”  Everyone’s replaceable.  If you are getting formally notified that you need to change, the process of replacing you has begun.
  • You receive an unusually low performance review – This one is tricky.  I promise to dedicate an entire month to the dysfunction known as “the performance review.”  Rarely are they conducted properly, nor are they helpful in improving one’s performance.  That said, if you receive an unusually low performance review despite your continued production, look closely.  It is possible that the message being sent is that your approach to how you are getting things done is rubbing people the wrong way.
  • You get this roundabout, vague feedback from your manager – Have you ever had a conversation from your boss and left the conversation uncertain as to what he or she was trying to say?  You remember that there was something in the conversation about comments from your co-workers or some concern about your attitude, but it was all quite vague.  Addressing someone’s attitude is typically one of those inferred “fuzzy” conversations that bosses deliver (poorly usually) and hope that one reads between the lines.  If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these “what was he / she saying?” conversations, look again.  You may have just gotten an important warning that your star is dangerously close to burning out.
  • You’re asked to get coaching – This is not to be taken lightly.  If you hear this request, it is another way for your manager to say “I have no idea how to help you.  I’ve tried everything I can think of.  Let’s see if a professional can have any better success.”  This is a last resort.  I have seen countless rock stars get this request to seek coaching, dismiss it as “not urgent,” and find themselves playing in those dive bars we talked about shortly thereafter.

Watch for these so you can keep a good pulse on your fans and your rock star status.  In addition, I have had several comments that the warning signs for senior leaders are slightly different.  Look for that post coming soon!