Selfishness is the enemy of progress and achievement.  It hurts teams and customers and fosters the wrong culture.  It undermines the mission of the organization.  Employers must recruit, hire, evaluate, and promote individuals based on their focus on the team and mission.   Being mission, team, and customer-centered must be the culture of the organization.  Leaders must exemplify this culture.  Leaders must incentivize the right thinking and behaviors in the workplace and discourage those which are counterproductive.

There was once a supervisor in a department who regularly had long lines of employees needing services only his office could provide. He insisted on doing everything himself. He had two employees who could help but he always underutilized them.

One day, it was politely suggested to him that he cross-train both employees who seemed polite, professional, and capable. With three employees who could meet all customer needs, this would make everything much more efficient, positive, and productive for everyone.

His response? “Oh no, I could never do that. They might take my job.”

The employee who puts his or her own personal agenda over the needs of the mission, team, and customers cannot be allowed to remain. He was willing to cost everyone else to advance his inaccurately perceived self-interest.  The reality is that had he optimized the abilities of his entire team to best serve the organization, he would have been positively recognized for his leadership in delivering quality customer service.  Of course, behind every dysfunctional employee or supervisor is a manager allowing it, so this behavior persisted to the detriment of everyone.

What’s the solution?  Everyone who is hired, retained, and promoted must be all about the mission, the team, and those we serve.