Lessons in Letting Go

Here’s a sneak peek into my upcoming book: How To Hire the Best: The Entrepreneurs Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Team Members (Releasing November 18, 2020)

Rally Cry

Chad and Diane Hatfield own Hatfield Builders & Remodelers in Plano, TX. Chad believes it’s best to be honest with both yourself and a team member when deciding whether or not the job is working out. He makes clear that his belief is that the long-term consequences of keeping a bad employee are much worse than getting rid of the person immediately. To Chad, it’s best to fire sooner rather than later.

It’s hard, real hard…We just got through really cleaning house . . . We let five people go between November and January, and we just said, “Anyone who doesn’t meet the standard, we’re through playing around with people. You’re going to treat our clients and us in the business and it's resources with the respect that it deserves, and we’re going to have an ideal team.” The long-term consequences of keeping them are always greater than the consequences of firing them now. And you are not doing them any favors either because if you feel that chances are they’re not happy either, and it’s just not going to work, and you’re lying to yourself. So stop lying to yourself. Own up to the reality, give them honest feedback, and if it’s not going to work, be honest with yourself with it, and find somebody else. —Chad Hatfield

Our team has rallied together and said, “Okay, the Hatfields got rid of this person, so we’re going to just make it work. What do I need to do? Tell me what role you want to step into, where can I help, where can I take over,” and they’re digging in and diving in, and just getting after it, and they’re staying late, they’re doing whatever they have to do to make it work . . . I think the environment overall is better. Our team meetings are happier. The office just feels better. It just feels nicer when you walk in. Knowing that we’re going to just move ahead and move forward keeps it positive and keeps it going, and we’re not going to let all of these things that we had behind us and all these bad people that we had behind us drive us down.” —Diane Hatfield

Leading with Intention

Ronda Conger, Vice President of CBH Homes in Meridian, Idaho, asks her managers to check in with new team members at regular intervals with the following questions:

Is it what you thought it was going to be? What’s different? What didn’t match?

As Ronda puts it, “maybe they say, ‘I didn’t know you worked so hard, I didn’t know that I had to do this . . . You were the best place to work. I thought you’d drink beer all day.’”

Ronda also wants her managers to have specific, frank discussions about attitude and actions, such as by saying:

We need to have a really good feeling that you are showing the right attitude, the right actions, and we’re going to get there. You’re far from perfect, you’re far from there but, boy, the attitudes and actions, those are the two things over the 90 days that we watch for. Are you excited? Are you ready? Are you grateful? Is your mind in the right place? Are you doing everything that we ask you to do and then some? If you’re not those two places, you’re not going to be there past ninety days.

Ronda is very intentional about having her managers identify what new team members are doing great, what they need to stop doing completely, and what they need to focus on to get better.

In just fifteen minutes, managers can help new team members get or stay on track with their attitudes and performance.

Ronda also instructs her managers to ask what they can do better as a leader and manager. Her focus is to have the right people in the right spots. Having the same conversations with team members over and over again is not acceptable.

She has frequent, frank conversations up front but if something lingers after having been discussed, she gives team members thirty days to make the change or leave the company, saying something to the effect of the following:

It’s obvious that you’re not happy, you’re not producing, you’re not thriving. I only want people in the building that want to be in the building. People who are excited to be here, people who believe in the mission, and want to be here. If you don’t want to be, please don’t stay. You’ll show me that based on your actions.

I want you to know that you will be just fine without that warm body employee. In fact, your business will be more profitable when you let that person go. Redistribute work among remaining team members, and operate with fewer team members as you attract the best team members to fill your open positions.

Ronda puts it this way: 

I think sometimes we think, ‘Oh, it’s too hard to rehire. We’ll make it work. We’ll figure it out.’ You won’t. If they don’t want to be there and they’re not doing what you asked them to do, it’s that you have to be honest with yourself and with the person and say, ‘You don’t want to be here.

Once you’ve identified these threats to your culture, you can move on to one of the best parts of hiring A-Players today: telling your company’s new story.

For tips on how to work through these problems and coach your team more effectively, please be sure to check out How To Hire the Best:The Entrepreneurs Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Team Members, releasing November 18, 2020.

About The Author

Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist and international best-selling author of the How to Hire the Best series and The 4 Week Vacation™, is the founder of Tap the Potential and host of the Profit by Design podcast. At Tap the Potential, we work to free business owners from the constant demands of a growing business.

We believe work supports life, not the other way around. Clients in our Better Business, Better Life coaching program have more time for what matters most and more money in their bank account than they’ve ever had. Next, we send them off on a 4 Week Vacation™ to celebrate their hard-earned journey to take their life back!

Dr. Sabrina and her team at Tap the Potential are on a mission to change the story of entrepreneurship from one of long hours, grinding it out, to one of sustainably profitable businesses that support and enhance life. The Tap the Potential Solution™ and our Tap the Potential Family of Business Owners are disrupting small business as usual. We are on our way to making the Tap the Potential Solution™ the mainstream model for growing business.

By 2023, 150 Tap the Potential clients will have taken 4 Week Vacations. These are the trailblazers, role modeling what’s possible for entrepreneurs. In many entrepreneurial circles, it is becoming more and more common for one entrepreneur to ask another, “Have you taken a 4 Week Vacation™?” (as opposed to asking “How many employees do you have?” or “What is your annual revenue?”). Taking a fully unplugged 4 Week Vacation is rapidly becoming the recognized symbol of entrepreneurial success.

Never one to accept the status quo or back down from a challenge, Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best series grew from her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability. What sprang from her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses—no matter what hiring challenges those businesses are facing—and earned Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures and highly engaged team members working from strengths.

As The Business Psychologist, and with her years of driving profit in small businesses, Dr. Sabrina knows what it takes to find, keep, and motivate exceptional performance out of your biggest investment—team members.