Invaluable, excellent at his craft, likable, fantastic with customers – the team leans on him.
Yet is he a high performer? Or, is he a ‘blocker’?

When a ‘blocker’ leaves an organization the initial response is often ‘oh no’ because on the surface they seem invaluable. A nanosecond later there is an ‘Ahh Yes’ because now everyone around him rises to the occasion and hidden holes or paths to glory for others are revealed.

A ‘blocker’ may exhibit one of these traits, often the behavior is very subtle and can be tricky to identify:

  • Consistently grabs the best and most visible projects/tasks
  • Others tend to defer to him
  • Seems to keep secrets or withholds information
  • Tends not to lift others or promote engagement

Before you get all down on blockers consider the environment and what you promote. What you promote you permit. Also, keep in mind our educational system tends to place value on individual performance rather than team. People are often rewarded for these traits.  How to shift your environment? Consider these questions:

  • Is your culture one that puts individual performance above team and organization? Do you award super heroes?
  • Have you asked your high performers how they are engaging others to participate and grow?
  • Have you engaged your team to define appropriate behavior within the team? I call this a credo.
  • Do you regularly dialogue about the credo?
  • What if this person left suddenly? How would you fill his role?

I’ve found as you engage with people with the questions above, the ‘blockers’ and the holes begin to reveal themselves.

While a blocker may seem to make things easy – blocking the road ahead for others can be a huge detriment to motivation, development of others and innovation.  By the way, blockers can be any gender and at any level in the organization.

When a blocker leaves – watch how other people step up and grow!  It is a beautiful thing!

Can a blocker change?  Maybe.  Ask me how.