Why the Right Team Matters More Than Ever

by | Jun 26, 2020

Recently I interviewed Clate Mask, CEO of Keap, we discussed the question: What Is Covid Trying to Teach You About Your Business Model?

Since hearing that question from Clate, I’ve asked friends, colleagues, and our community the same thing.

One of the answers I heard surprised me. But it aligns perfectly with a concept we teach here at Elite Entrepreneurs. So I wanted to address it.

What was the answer?

“I’ve kept the wrong employees for way too long”

My responder (and out of respect for her and her employee, I won’t use names), shared her story with me:

“I had a copywriter who was hit or miss. Sometimes, her copy was spot on. And she produced it so quickly that it almost made up for the times when her copy tanked. To me, it felt like she didn’t care about her work. She was only in it for a paycheck. Two weeks into lockdown, she sent me copy that was embarrassingly bad. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

I called her up and we discussed how lockdown was affecting her and her family. Together, we determined that she needed to focus on her family for now.

It sounds bad, but having a break from this employee was such a relief. I’m secretly hoping she chooses not to come back.”

Guess what? My responder is not alone. Far too many business owners hang on to employees that don’t fit their culture. Sometimes, it takes a pandemic before they’re willing to do anything about it.

Howard Levitt, a well-known lawyer in Canada said, “Many employers have used the pandemic as an excuse to discard employees they long wished to be rid of.”

As you asked yourself the question “What is COVID Trying to Teach Me About My Business Model?” did employee concerns come to mind?

The Hiring/Firing Challenge

Why do many of us struggle to let go of “misfit” employees? Even when we know that letting them go is the best option for us, our other employees, the culture of our company, and often the person in question?

Here are a few possible reasons:

They’re Nice People – Just because someone is nice doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for your team. But it’s always more difficult to let a pleasant person go. You have no interest in seeing them sad, upset, or even angry. You would like for the friendly relationship you’ve developed to continue.

Ultimately, you’re going to feel guilty for “making” a good person suffer.

You Think It’s Your Fault – If you had spent more time with the person, and done a better job of training them, would the outcome have been different? If so, then fix the problem. Spend more time with the person. Train them better. But sometimes, we take on the inadequacies of our employees when we shouldn’t. And sometimes, they simply don’t fit the culture.

Ultimately, you’re going to feel guilty for not having the time to both run a business and mold perfect employees.

You’re Hoping Things Will Magically Change – In an attempt to avoid confrontation or put off something we don’t have time to deal with, we let things carry on for far too long. We go to bed at night hoping things will somehow be better in the morning. And the longer we go without taking action, the easier it gets to ignore the situation.

However, the longer it takes to assess and correct the situation, the more guilt you’re gonna feel for not taking action sooner.

Among all three reasons, there tends to be a common thread of guilt. Usually stemming from the belief that somehow you failed as a leader. And that guilt can prevent you from making the right decisions for your team.

Alison Green, the author behind “Ask a Manager”, said:

“It’s normal for firings to be hard and to feel guilty even when you know the decision was the right one — even when the person was warned and chose not to change his or her behavior. Firing is hard.”

She went on to say:

“However, being willing to let people go is also critically important to your job as a manager. Having the right people on your team makes an enormous difference in how effective you are and how much you achieve.”

You’ve got to let go of the guilt. You’ve got to make decisions that lead to long-term success. Even if it means uncomfortable and even painful moments with the employees in question.

Why Visit This Topic Now?

There’s a good chance you’ve recently let someone (or even multiple people) go. And it might be several months before you need to hire or fire anyone again.

So why bring up this topic now?

Now Is the Time to Learn New Leadership Skills

COVID 19 has provided us with a powerful moment of introspection. As you’ve made decisions about your business, you’ve evaluated the importance of each person within your organization.

You can see, more clearly than ever, how the right employees contribute to your success – even during a pandemic.

If, like my colleague, you felt any relief over a recent fire, then it’s time to make hiring the right people more of a priority. Because the pandemic will eventually be in the past. And when it is, you’ll get the chance to grow again. To hire again. You need to learn how to avoid costly, bad hires now.

The “New Norm” Could Make Decisions More Difficult

Another concern is the long-term, psychological impact COVID 19 will have on our hiring and firing decisions.

Consider this…as more communities re-open, and businesses (like yours) are ready to hire again, you’ll have your choice of candidates. With over 40 million people unemployed in the US, any position you need to fill will be in high demand. That decision should not be made based on “who needs the job most.” It should be based 100% on who will be the best employee for your business.

Furthermore, if you thought firing “misfit” employees was tough before, wait until 6 months or a year from now, when the country is wading through the middle of a recession or even a full-blown depression. And that employee desperately needs to keep their job.

To Remind You That the Right Employees Are the Key to “Taking You There”

The final purpose is to remind you of something you’ve already figured out. Your employees are your greatest asset. And they have the power to bridge that gap between where you are and where you want to be.

An article in Harvard Business review said it really well:

“Going through a downturn and making tough decisions to keep your company afloat is hard. However, if you lead with compassion you will touch the lives of your employees in an extraordinary way and come out of this potential slowdown stronger than ever before, enhancing the shared values of your staff.”

More than ever, your success is going to depend on your team. On having the right group of people working toward a common goal. Supporting a common culture. They are the ones who will bear you up during this crisis. And they are the ones who will help you achieve your most ambitious goals.

While it wasn’t the answer I expected from my question, I’m glad this colleague has used her time to get clarity around her team.

If you own and run a 7-figure business and you’d like to get more clarity about the common challenges business owners encounter as they grow their business to $1M+, be sure to check out this free training called “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.”

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