50 Great Ideas for Finding and Keeping Great People page
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“Hi Joe, my name is Bob, and I’m your worst nightmare.”It was the morning of the first day of a Spark Plug training session on
The Twelve Core Action Values
at a client hospital. I remembered having seen “Bob” at one of theorientation sessions, though I had not personally met her. Shaking her hand, I said:“So tell me, ‘Bob’ – why are you my worst nightmare?”
She replied that she was an intensive care unit nurse, and that B.O.B. stood for “BitterOld Bitch,” a title she’d earned through many years of being what she called “thecounterweight of realism to the administration’s Pollyanna routine.”“What on Earth are you doing in this class?” I asked. She replied that she’d beendoing a lot of thinking since the orientation session, and had decided it might be timefor a name change. We agreed that she could stay in the course, so long as “Bob”stayed home. She honored that commitment, and at the end of our three days simplysaid, “Thank you, I’m convinced.”About a year later, I ran into the CEO of that hospital at a conference. “How’s ‘Bob’ doing?” I asked. He told me that at the time of our training, he’d been actively working with his human resources department to move her out of the organization, but thatnow he would hate to lose her. She had become, he told me, a real informal leader onher unit and within the Spark Plug group, and a role model of self-transformation. “I would hate to lose her,” he said. Not only that, he continued, he also knew that thingshad improved for “Bob” on her home front.When you consider that the cost to a hospital of replacing one registered nurse isestimated to be $60,000 or more (
more for an ICU nurse), this was obviously agood investment for the hospital. But more important was the transformation of “Bob,” and the impact of that transformation upon others in her work unit (not tomention others at home). Had that transformation not occurred, the cost of keeping“Bob” on the job might have ultimately outweighed the cost of needing to replace her,not least because her toxic negativity could have driven other good people away (infact, according to the CEO, had in the past done exactly that).