Firing an under-performing team member is a battle we all struggle with. In this session, we learn key phrases we can use when faced with this dilemma. We also hear about situations and past experiences from our hosts and speakers.
We’ve all been in that position where we’ve created a solid bond with each team member. However, sometimes we find that even months down the line, one member is underperforming. What do we do about this? Do we fire them? And how do we go about firing someone we’ve grown to care about?
What Would a Leader Do?
As a leader, you need to first try to understand why their performance has changed. It could be for many reasons, including changes in your company structure, change in leadership, or exhaustion.
A great way to find out why someone has been underperforming is to simply ask questions. By asking questions you can get to the bottom of each problem and find out about what their struggle is.
There are two types of questions you may want to ask:
- The questions regarding their health and their own well-being,
- The questions regarding your company’s processes to help them thrive.
‘How are you doing?’ ‘How are you feeling?’ ‘What’s going on?’ are all questions that have very different answers and goals compared to ‘Is there anything I can do to help you achieve this goal?’ ‘Do you understand how to do this?’
Just make sure you don’t come in accusatory. Any human being could react badly to an accusation, especially when they have put so much work into something.
Reaching out with an understanding and empathic approach will lead you to answers. Accusations will lead you to more problems.
Still, if it comes to a point where letting them go is the only way, then you have no option but to make that decision and take action. It will be tough, however, it will benefit you as a leader and your company’s future. It may complicate things for them in their personal lives but you have to prioritize the well-being of the team and your company. Use positive and kind feedback, and maybe provide guidance on their next steps. Sometimes it’s about finding the right fit.
If you want to hear about how to deal with other tough situations while managing a team, listen to the full session above!
- TRANSCRIPT: Coach Yu – EP23: The hardest part about being a leader
Hello? Hello. Hello. Welcome to the Coach Yu show. Welcome everyone. We’ll be getting started in just a minute or two. I’m just gonna pin the link to Startup Club here at the top www.startup.club. That’s the website for Startup Club. And you can go there and see, or listen to past episodes of the coaches show and other great shows we have at Startup Club.
So hope you’ll check that out and you can sign up for our mailing list to inform to things going on. And here he is, or here are you welcome everybody to another episode of the coach. You show with your host, Dennis, you with the orange head and our cohost, Jeff says, and every week [00:01:00] we cover a new topic and I’ll introduce it.
And then after introducing it, we can all discuss it. And this show, as you guys know, is being recorded. So anything you say, make sure it’s awesome for the rest of us here today. We’re going to talk about how do you fire a team member. You really love. And all of us have been in that position where we’ve had someone on the team and we’ll say, you know, Johnny’s really good.
I really like him, but he’s just missing in one area. Or, you know, Dan is a superstar, he’s got a toxic attitude that ruins the rest of the, you know, the team or he gets away with stuff as a Renegade or, well, I’m just using a made up names. You know, Mary tries really hard, but she’s sick all the time. And it just seems like problems chase her around wherever she goes.
How do you handle situations like this? What are some of the key phrases that you can say? What situations have you been [00:02:00] in when this has occurred and how do you do it in a way that is respectful? That doesn’t cause a lot of other sorts of problems. And it’s just a good human way, especially in this new COVID kind of space and.
There could not be some, uh, more apropos time to talk about firing other people then I think now, so I want to tell you a couple, give you a couple of examples, a couple of stories from my own direct experience, I was with Michael Stelzner the day after social media marketing world and Michael Stelzner is the founder of this.
And he is had of his however many years, he’s run this conference and it’s the world’s largest social media marketing conference and podcast and event. And all this, he told me his he’s only lost one person. [00:03:00] I said, well, how is that? Well it’s because I know how to coach people when they have a problem.
And the way he does that is when someone is struggling. And if you’ve ever been a boss or a manager, an entrepreneur, and you don’t know how to approach. The issue when one of the team members is struggling, this is what you do. You sit them down or you have a little zoom call and you ask them how they’re doing.
What you’re trying to do is get them to admit that there’s an issue. Not because you’re a lawyer and you’re trying to nail them with evidence, but you’re trying to make sure that you guys on the same page with the issue and when you get them to, you know, like, Hey, you know, it looks like you’re, you’ve been even struggling a bit recently, you know, getting projects done or whatnot, or you’re late on this other thing, or, you know, the quality of your work hasn’t been w you don’t want to come in accusatory.
Right. But some, you know, what, what do [00:04:00] you think, how would you, you know, how would you describe, or, you know, assess what’s going on here? And then they’ll say, well, you know, I’ve been sick recently, or I haven’t really been as motivated or. Things or, you know, things are really hard or I’m confused. And then this is the opportunity.
Once they have admitted that there’s an issue you say, I understand. So what do you think is the, is the cause behind the performance issue? And then when you, when they say well it’s and they, they give you that particular reason, they’ve acknowledged that there’s an issue they have in, in their mind, given what they believe is.
And usually it’s accurate what they say, you know, it is, if they’re making excuses, then it’s a little bit tougher because then you have to point the facts saying, well, you know, I, the reason I want to sit down with you is to talk about some performance, you know, bits of your performance, because you know, it’s, don’t [00:05:00] worry.
We’re okay right now, but I just want to make sure that, you know, we can catch. And give you an opportunity to, to fix things. And so when they say, you know, when they can see there’s an issue we can, when they can diagnose what it is, then you say to them, or based on this issue that you have, what I’d like you to do is sometime over the next 24, 48 hours, come back to me, you know, or actually don’t even say, when first you sick, can you come back to me with a plan on how you want to be able to handle this right.
And what you can do to improve. So you’re giving them the opportunity to improve based on what they see the issue is. And then you say, don’t, you don’t have to write this whole essay. You don’t have to spend an hour on. It literally will take, you know, 10 or 15 minutes. When do you think I can have this little plan by?
And they’ll typically say like tomorrow, whatever. It’s like. Okay, great. So we’re [00:06:00] acknowledging tomorrow. You’re going to write a note, or I’m going to have this little plan on my desk where we’re going to figure out how we can get you back to the levels that you really you know, could be at. And if they say, well, I need a week or whatever, that’s when you say, all right, we’re not looking for this, this giant essay.
I just want an assessment of, you know, what, what we think we can do to get back to where we know that you could be. And then you give them a chance to, to provide a plan. And you acknowledge that. So now you have written record of that, and then let’s say you give them, you know, two weeks or week, or however long, if, if at that point they have not improved the performance.
Then you have, then you fire them, right. Then you have the opportunity to fire them, but you do it in such a way that it’s, you know, Hey Jeffrey, we had, you know, we had discussed your performance before you said it was because of. You [00:07:00] know, you had, you were struggling with, with, you know, showing up to work on time or whatever it might be.
And, you know, we gave it a shot and, you know, things are just not working out and we believe that your talents are better utilized elsewhere. Right. And, and when you do that, it’s a tough thing. Cause it’s tough to fire other people. Right? A lot of, a lot of us are like, well, I don’t really know. Maybe they’ll improve or I’m going to delay it till a bit later.
But when you do that, when you, and you’ve heard, you guys have heard the phrase fire fast, hire slow fire fast, when you do this it’s relief because all the team members can see this, they know it’s coming, you know that they’ve been dragging things down and it’s not as harsh as, I mean, An easy time to fire.
There’s never a perfect time to fire somebody, [00:08:00] but when you’ve given them a chance with this assessment, you’ve gotten them to admit that there is an issue a couple of weeks ago. Not because you’re trying to set them up on, what’s typically called a PIP performance improvement plan, but like you’ve given them a chance to correct it.
And they still haven’t. Then you can in a humane way say, look, you know, we, we did the best that we can. Things are just not working out and, you know, love you to death as a friend, but as a, as a coworker or as someone in our company, you’re just not meeting the standards. Right. And you would think that sometimes people will break down and cry.
Sometimes they’ll argue. Because you had documented that there is an issue, you got them to admit it. You gave them an opportunity to change things. Typically don’t let it go more than a couple of weeks, right. Or if they’re being really bad, then, you know, let it go a few days, but you at least give them [00:09:00] an opportunity.
Then they’re going to at least walk away with some dignity, because at least they had an opportunity to fix things. So that’s something that I learned from Michael Stelzner. And if anyone here would like to role play in this kind of discussion, I think it’s really helpful. So Jeffrey, you want to give this shot or anyone else here?
Got it. Well, before we roll play, Dennis, just, you know, you made me think of, of several experiences. Cause you know, you talked about. Firing a team member you really like, and you gave an example of, of when their performance was lacking, where they kind of fell off the performance wagon. But I want to take, just tell a story about it kind of a different situation, but very similar emotions.
I’ve had three experiences in my career that I can think of right off the bat, where I had to fire someone who was probably one of the best performers on our team, because they did something [00:10:00] that was so against the company’s culture or potentially a stupid, but unethical mistake, they just did something that was left me, no choice, but having to let them go, even though they were a valued employee, a friend, and a high performer.
So it wasn’t a performance issue. It was just a stupid mistake that really could not. Be resolved any other way than letting them go. And that, that was really tough in all three instances for, for obvious reasons. And I think in those cases, what I try to do is first of all, put them in my position, like try to explain the point and why it was an irreparable situation, why they really left me with no choice other than to let them go.
Um, and, and that, I understood that even though this [00:11:00] was an inexcusable thing that happened, that’s not who they were and this wasn’t. You know, um, this is wasn’t really their normal course of operation, but they exercise really, really poor judgment in this instance. And, and sometimes in life, there are consequences for poor judgment and, and I had no choice, but to let them go because the, the worst thing would be to let that incident, um, go by without consequences.
And if other people in the company or other people in the industry were to find out about it, then the ongoing damage is both to that person and to the company would be much greater. So I did my best to try to turn it into a growth and learning opportunity for that person, you know, reassured them that I didn’t think they were a bad person.
I thought they made a bad decision, you know, at that particular moment in time, but that, you know, I would do everything in my power to help them learn from that [00:12:00] decision and grow from that decision. And I tried to point. You know, things in my own career or situations where I was in a position to change careers or change jobs and reassure them that almost always, even though it’s difficult at the time change is always good and turns out well.
And I think in most of those cases, that person went on to actually learn. And I know in one, in one case in particular, they came back to me a year later and we’re really being very successful since that incident and expressed how much they grew from it. They were young when it happened and, and really, um, you know, really learned a great deal from that process.
So, you know, one thing you try to do is turn it into a learning experience and a growth experience for the person who you have to fire. So that would be my 2 cents on that. Fantastic. And we have, before we go further in this, we have a special sponsor. Proctor and gamble. Do you want to do this part Jeffrey or me?
[00:13:00] Well, the, the, the sponsorship is kind of winding down as the, the big reveal is going to happen at the consumer electronics show, um, in a couple of weeks. So we had a, um, we were helping Proctor and gamble, uh, promote an innovation concept, uh, contest they’re having. And the submission date for your ideas was, was back in November.
I think it was November 28th. So that time has passed. Oh yeah, but it’s going to be continuing, but the good news is Dennis. It is going to continue at the consumer electronics show at CES. Um, Michelle and Colin will be joining Proctor and gamble in their booth and they will be introducing kind of the three finalists in that, uh, innovation contest.
And I think the winner will be announced at. Oh, fantastic. Now to the fun part of the show, which is where we have a role play. So if you’d like to come on and either be [00:14:00] the employee that’s struggling or about to be fired, or the boss, then go ahead and hit the hand, raise button in the bottom center there, and we’ll role play.
And I’m happy to be either, right. I can be the difficult I can be the employee who’s about to get fired. And then you can put me on easy mode or like difficult mode and practice your skills and being able to have this conversation, or you can be the employee that’s about to be fired and I can be the boss, right.
Or Jeffrey can be either one of these. So how about while you guys are raising your hands and Jeffrey’s the moderator, let folks in, how about Jeffrey? You, you and I role play, uh, sure.
Well, what, what is your let’s say then? Okay. So I’ll be the boss and Jeffrey, you’ve been struggling with getting work done. Right. And, and I come over to you. I [00:15:00] hit you up on zoom. And so we’re going to role-play. Okay.
So Jeffrey man, you know, you’ve been a good friend of mine for a while, and I love being able to work with you. And when you first started, man, I love the stuff that you were doing. You’re putting out such good work. You’re enthusiastic, but I’ve noticed in the last couple of weeks, things haven’t been. As, as good as they used to be.
And I just wanted to ask, like, how are things going? What’s going on? Well, no, I, I, you know, I think things are going well, you know, I just feel like, you know, um, lately the company’s been growing, a lot of new people have come on board, you know, when it was a little bit smaller, I got to spend more time with you.
I really appreciate your mentorship and, and, and your guidance. And, um, you know, maybe I’m just missing that a little bit and it’s just, um, becomes a little bit harder for me to, to focus on [00:16:00] my tasks. Cause I’m not getting that kind of mentorship and guidance that I used to get from. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.
And certainly when companies are growing, it’s harder to be able to be in contact with the founders and such. So do you think that if maybe we could find a way where we had short little check-ins. Maybe every few days, or we gave you some, another manager who had more time than me. Cause I admitted I’m a bottleneck.
There’s, you know, I’m all these different places I traveled. I was in seven countries in the last two weeks. So I’m really allows the manager. But do you think maybe if we had had, uh, you know, Dan come in and, and help mentor you that that, that would help some of the performance issues? Well, you know, I don’t really know Dan he’s, he’s kinda new and, and, you know, I feel like, you know, my history with the company and, you know, the things I’ve done, uh, to [00:17:00] help us get to this point.
And Dan is like, you know, to him, I’m just like another employee I might as well. And I know that he’s brought on a few people from his past company to work with him and he kind of seems to favor them to me. So I kinda like the. First of all. I’m really sorry if you think I haven’t been holding up my end of the stick and I want to work on that with you.
Cause I really do appreciate the opportunities you’ve given me, Dennis and, and, and I really believe in the company, you know, so, so I take this seriously, but you suggested maybe we can have a short, you know, weekly huddle just where I get that, that, um, chance to give you some feedback when my thoughts and the things that I’ve been working on at the same time, I understand we’re growing.
And if you want me to also kind of report more directly to Dan, instead of you, uh, you know, I, I suppose I can give that a try. Yeah. Well, I appreciate that Jeffery. And what I’d like to do is for you to think about [00:18:00] what some of the issues are. So we’re not, you know, you’re not in trouble right now. I was just noticing that you were late on some of your projects and you, you missed a couple deadlines and I want to see you do well, which is why we’re having this call.
So I want you to think about. You know, deeply more deeply about what some of these things are. And, you know, if it’s direct access to me, I’m trying to do the best I can, but also, you know, I’ve gotta be able to sleep. There’s these other projects that we need the company on. Right. And we’re growing. And my hope is that you grow with us, you’ll have other people on your team, right.
As we expand, we want to, to be able to replace ourselves. Right. So that we’re not having to be there all the time. Cause otherwise, you know, we’re, we’re stuck in this particular role. So I want you to think about it Jeffrey. And do you think maybe you could write up your analysis of, of your performance and the things that you, uh, you know, why that is and the things that you can do to improve, to get back to the Jeffrey that we know that [00:19:00] you’re capable of.
Do you think you could write a little, just a few paragraphs summarizing our discussion and your analysis and what action you can. Yeah. I mean, I think I can, what I would ask from you, and I guess maybe this, maybe this is even more important than having that weekly catch up is maybe you can just give me a little bit more specifics of, of the things that you see that are lacking or missing right now as compared to what they were before.
Um, again, you being my mentor, you know, giving me that guidance and then I’ll take that information and really think on it and then put together, you know, my thoughts on those things. Yeah. Um, and yes, I’m happy to do that. Fantastic. When do you think I can expect that report? Well, you want to tell me the things that you think I’ve been screwing up on, and then I’ll get that report to you is, is like today is Thursday.
[00:20:00] So would Monday be. Monday sounds great. Jeffrey can work on it over the weekend. Yeah. And what I’d ask you to do is think about when you joined the company, the goals that you have because the, the company of course, is there to exist as a company, but we’re also here to serve you and the combined resources.
What we have should be such that you’re going to, you’re able to achieve your goals, better working with us, then maybe, you know, moonlighting things on the side or working on other projects or the other things you might be spending time on. So go back to the goals sheet that you put together. When you joined the company, the three by three goals, we remember the personal, physical professional, short, medium long-term right.
Three by three goals that you put together and see like maybe your goals have changed. Right. But if you still believe in those same goals and. We have aligned projects that help you achieve those goals. Consider maybe where there might be a disconnect there because I’m certainly here as a cheerleader to [00:21:00] support you no matter what you’re doing and where you’re going, but I don’t want you to think that I’m the only one, right.
Who can be there. And like, even though, you know, Dan’s not the founder, we have a lot of us and we’d like to see you be able to step up into a leadership position. As you put in your goal sheet. It made me think of something that is to, you know, you know, part of that is, you know, when we were smaller and starting out and I was getting that time with you, you know, we all wore many hats because we had to now as the company’s growing, you know, roles are getting more specific.
And maybe I feel like my role hasn’t like, I’m still kind of. Maybe feeling a little bit lost that I was doing a lot of different things. And now, which is the thing that I should be focusing on now, like where, where should I focus my energies and my skills that’ll be best, not only for the company, but best for me, instead of doing a lot of different things.
Maybe it’s time to just kind of hone in on the one area that I can know the best contribution. [00:22:00] What area do you think that is? Well, we look at your weekly report, weekly status report and the projects that you’re on. And obviously in a growing company, we have the benefit of so many amazing opportunities, but we’ve got to focus 80 20 on the projects that deliver the most value.
So in those top three, because every week we look at what are those top three things that you can be working on. Let’s let’s make sure that we can catch these things before it gets to the point where projects are falling behind, or team members are mad or, you know, clients are, are not getting what they expected.
Right. We thank goodness. We’re not at that point now, but certainly you bring up a good point, you know, with a growing company, lots of different projects. What, what do you know, what is it that you need to be focusing on? So that’s great. I’m glad that you brought that up. So what we want to do is catch that as part of the process before it gets the point where we need an intervention, right?
So let’s say [00:23:00] I do my little report for you over the weekend. Would it be okay if I kind of expected. Where I think I should be focusing, you know, to use just Collins. Remember you told me to read that book. Good to great. When I joined you, you know, when you talked about getting the right people on the bus, but then more importantly, getting the right people in the right seat on the bus.
And maybe my issue is I’m, I’m currently not feeling like I’m on the right seat on the bus. I like the bus I’m on. I believe in you and the company, but I feel like I’m not, I’m not in the right role. Right. And now is a great time to step up and say something. So I’m glad Jeffrey that you’ve said something here because people change.
We want people to, to grow, right. We don’t want people to stay in the same role every, every month, every year. Right? Cause that’s that stagnancy that we always want people to be advancing, but the way you advance as you know, is based on learn, do teach and content checklist software. So you, what you want to do is be able to, [00:24:00] to, to move up because you’ve documented the role that you’re in.
So that other people can follow you. So you train up these other people so that you can continue to advance and do something new. But what we don’t want to do is promote you into a new role when you haven’t done a solid job in the current role that you’re in. Right. I just want to finish what we started.
Yeah. I’ve got to prove myself first. All right. Well, you’ve given me a lot to think about, I, I mean, I’m not happy to hear this, but I appreciate it. And I do, like I said, you know, appreciate all you’ve done for me so far. I believe in the company, I believe in you. So let me take the weekend, as I said, and I’m going to give this a lot of thought and I’ll come to you Monday with, with the piece of paper, sort of laying out what you’ve asked.
Sounds good. I appreciate you, my man. Thanks, Dennis. Okay. So that I see I’m not even a pro at these cause these, these can be difficult and then Jeffrey and I are kind of making up the story. As we go. The key thing is I don’t [00:25:00] want him to feel like I’m accusing him so we can make a little small talk in the beginning.
Anytime there’s, there’s an issue. If it’s the first time you could practice radical transparency or extreme leadership, if you like Jocko, Willink, and where are you, where are you on it? So in Jeffrey says, he’s confused. I could say, Hey, you know what? I’ll take the blame on that. Right? We’re growing.
There’s a lot of things going on. So you don’t, you want to get them to, to a point where they’re not feeling like they’re being accused, but oftentimes if you wait too long, they already know they’re guilty. So they’re already going to be defensive. Right. But you do want to listen and actively reflect back the reason.
So it’s because. Jeffrey has just replayed a really good one there, because these ones that are, are harder to, to diagnose when you have someone who’s more senior, they’re going to, they’re going to play the game like Jeffrey has where, well, I’m not spending as much time with you or there’s too many projects or another team key team member left with this other [00:26:00] guys playing favorites.
Right? There’s not many people that are going to be a pro at Jeffrey’s level. Normally it’s going to the people who are going to play at that level, our managers and directors, and firing them as more difficult. Right. Jeffrey, what do you think? Yeah, I thought it was, it was good. Um, I was, I was thinking, um, you know, a lot of different reasons why it get in that conversation, but I thought you were pretty good.
You didn’t make me feel, um, Bad. You didn’t make me feel like, um, I was going to get fired, but you certainly made it clear that I wasn’t living up to your expectations. So I think that was good. Uh, and given that in the role-play we had that relationship, I would, that would, that would have an impact on me.
Right? Knowing that my mentor was disappointed in my performance, um, would, would have, so Bradley is a friend of mine. You guys probably know him and because he runs the dropping bombs podcast. And he said that when people are struggling, team members are struggling. [00:27:00] There’s only three things that you can do.
You can train them, terminate them or tolerate them. Right. And he says, we don’t tolerate. So we either train or we terminate. And the last thing you said, Jeffrey before the end of our fake conversation, role-play conversation was that maybe you’re in the wrong seat, on the bus. Maybe you’ve outgrown it, or maybe this is the position you started in was not the one that you thought it was good, but ended up being something you didn’t really like.
And what I’ve known from talking to mentors who have run companies with 200,000 employees, and this kind of thing is that when someone’s not performing and 99% of the time, the fault is with the manager, it’s not with the employee because it’s people process and platform. Those are the three underlying causes when you diagnose, when someone’s not performing.
So eat people’s people quality [00:28:00] and a process is training them. So are you, are you training them to be in the right place, in the right seat on the bus? And usually it’s because we put them in the wrong place or gave him skills that were above their head, as opposed to like them just not. Being good or them, you know, taking advantage of the situation.
But if you have a strong management process and like for our VA’s, we have a start of day and we have an end of day, unfortunately, last week we had let go two of our VAs, but there wasn’t, I mean, it’s very clear. It wasn’t subjective. It wasn’t like, oh, well, you know, Juan, doesn’t like, so-and-so it’s well, you miss you miss three start of day, you know, check in.
Yeah. You know, this is what the rule is, right? I mean, you go to any job and you don’t show up three days in a row, or, you know, you, you, you set your, if you set your time, as you work from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, your local time or whatever it is that you set is your schedule and you [00:29:00] don’t honor your own schedule and you don’t have some kind of legitimate excuse, excuse, or whatever the word is not excuse what would the nice word for that is?
Right? Because he had to go to the hospital. There’s something then, you know, in any job you’re going to have this kind of thing. So the process should catch when these things happen. So it’s objective. And the last part platform is tools, automation, other things to make stuff easier. We’re constantly working on.
Trying to make things easier, fewer tools, you know, using tools like we showed you a Jarvis to automate like copywriting or building webpages or this kind of thing to simplify these different jobs or break them into different roles. But people process and platform. Those are the three, usually it’s processed, which is driven by training.
And only sometimes is that a character flaw issue where they’re just a bad person or whatever, but we noticed good people. If you put them in a bad situation, they get confused or they’re lost or whatever, or they’re you hire people in the situation where [00:30:00] they they’re just desperate. I believe hired people that are just really that you feel bad.
You want to help them. But another mentor told me, you, you, you don’t want to be in the business of rehabilitating people or having them jump multiple levels above what their current skills. So you, you can take a performer and help move up one more level, but you can’t take someone. Who’s having lots of problems in their life, you know, marital problems and financial problems and whatnot.
And then try to turn them into a star. That’s just too it’s too much. But most of the time, the problem is because we put them in the wrong spot and we didn’t coach them properly, or they didn’t have the right training, basically. All right. Ready for another role-play guys.
All right, Ahmed. Welcome. Ahmed says if everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal. Okay. Great deal. Faster than it does. Welcome on [00:31:00] that. Yeah. Good. Do you want to be the boss or do you want to be the employee? Okay. I’m going to be the employee and you’re going to be. All right.
And what, where are you struggling on that? Just so I know the situation. Yeah, man, like it’s getting her left. Get some car that recently I’m getting quite busy. Okay. W well, I guess we lost him. Oh, wait. So before,
so before we start our role-play tell me what is, what is the situation that this employee you in this case are struggling with? Or what’s the performance issue? Yeah, actually like you’re the boss you gotta have, like you get,
I mean, I’ll play the boss, but you’re, you’re setting up the situation. So tell me, is it because [00:32:00] why, why is the employee not doing, are we about, did they just need to be fired? Because they just don’t, they’re just not going to be able to change or they’re in the wrong role. Or they cheated or like what, what ha you have to tell me, right.
Unless you want me to make up the situation. Yeah, look, I can choose, but, uh it’s all right.
All right. So, Hey, I’m ed man. It’s been a little bit since we talked, how are you doing? Yeah. Pretty good about you. I’m doing okay. And, you know, I care about our people and I just wanted to check and I noticed you you’ve been struggling a bit at work, and I just wanted us to see how you’re doing and ask and see what’s going on.
Wow. That’s, that’s very good of you, but this,
what do you mean by that?[00:33:00]
Yeah. And then I guess, I guess like getting chorus her there recently, but, um, uh, let’s get to the point. You want to have fun, right? It’s all right. No problem. I’m going to move on. I got to find out the shops, you know, no issues like that. So I think it is your land. I’m going to leave. Okay. Well, I guess that was either,
well, it depends. Are they a senior? Don’t ask for a reference. Yeah. And so if someone says something like that and they’re flippant like, oh, you’re going to fire me or blah, blah, blah. They have an attitude. If you believe that they’re a high performer and they, you, you believe that there’s someone who’s potentially worth saving casinos.
Sometimes people, you know, they had a problem at home or, you know, they see things they don’t mean cause they’re under stress with something else. Cause you never want to take it personally. You could try. [00:34:00] To tackle that and say, man, I feel, I feel bad that you think that, that that’s how we are. Right. You know that that’s not how our culture is.
Is there something I could do to help? I’m not firing you, I’m calling you because I’m honestly concerned about you on that, right? Yeah, I guess, but I guess, you know, like at the same point, um, you G you want to find me any way. So I mean, like I’m so not like I don’t this boring letters. I don’t think it’s important, but I mean, like the example, you have the confidence you want to care, you’re going to find that as a job.
Well, if you want to change jobs, then help me understand, right. As an employer, what is it that that’s not working? And, you know, what is it that, that we could, you know, just give me feedback as an employer. Like, how do we make it better? What, what do you think was, was not going well to get to this point?
So then I’m asking you for feedback, right? And then if you [00:35:00] say, well, I’m not making enough money, or I don’t like the projects or whatever it is, then at least we have something that we can discuss, right? Because then if people say that, Hey, you know, I can make more money. This other company, or the people are more successful over here, or I have this other kind of goal, or maybe, you know, I’m struggling and I’m just not getting, I’m not able to get my projects done, but I’m trying the best I can, or I’m not getting enough sleep because of that.
I’m not doing as good work as I could or I’m, or my baby’s sick. And I’m having to spend time with, you know, then at least we have something that we can work with, right. Something to discuss. And that’s usually where you find some level of connection. And, and we had one of our VAs, her name is Camico, and she’s been with us for three years.
I think she’s an incredible video editor and the last. Two months or so she’s struggled. She missed messages. She just, [00:36:00] wasn’t doing a great job. And so we asked her because we didn’t, you know, she wasn’t going to vote a lot of, a lot of times the employees or team members are not going to volunteer, but the issue is, so I said, Hey, what’s going on right now?
Um, I just want to know like where where’s the old Camico that we, we knew and love before that was doing great work. And she said that she was struggling, she had this, she had a medical condition and she needed surgery and I’m like, oh my goodness. Really? And in the Philippines, they’re totally okay with like sharing medical records.
So they, they, for some reason, like preemptively share it with you before. Like, not that we’d even ask. And I said, oh my goodness, well, what do we need to do to, to, to help you out? Like, do, do you need some time off? Or, you know, you don’t have to go into the particulars of the surgery or things like that.
But long story short, she had the surgery last year. And then she sent a note on Monday, three days ago saying, Hey, you know, the surgery went well, thank you so much. I was under [00:37:00] pressure before where I thought, you know, maybe I’d lose my job because I wasn’t doing good work and all this, like, no, no, it’s okay.
Just like let us know. Right. Communicating in advance. So that way the clients are wondering what’s going on. And so Monday she said, yep, I’m back. And things are great. And so excited to get going again and feeling better and like awesome. Awesome. You know, we love you. Um, take it slow if you need to work 20 hours a week while you’re recovering or whatever it is, like, let’s do that, but let’s make sure we communicate.
And so all was good. We had another team member last month who was, was not doing very good work. And I said, I’m just going to call him Paul. That’s not his name, but I’m going to say his name was Paul. And he said that he was taking care of his elderly parents. Right. And some things have happened. So he wasn’t able to work 40 hours a week.
And I said, okay, well that’s all right. But just can, can you set a schedule and you know, maybe work 30 hours a week? And he said, yeah, definitely. I could do that. And he thought he did he’d get fired. Or he thought that he, you know, if we only [00:38:00] take people who can work 40 hours and they said, no, no, no, you just got to let us know.
What’s the situation let’s plan around it. Right. You don’t have to give, give us every single detail, but you’ve got to at least say something. Right. Otherwise we don’t, we don’t know. Right. And then we have to bring someone else in on your projects, which is effectively firing someone when someone else has to do your projects.
Right. Hey Dennis. But it all goes back to communication. Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, no, you just brought up something that’s really important. I think so. I just wanted to point it out. And especially now in this sort of post COVID or mid COVID world, whatever, whatever state of affairs we’re currently in. You know, as a business, you, you need to have a culture of transparency where an employee would feel comfortable to come forward.
If they have an issue, especially if it’s something that’s affecting their work, because it just like in the example you gave wouldn’t, it have been ashamed if you had to fire that person because they didn’t come forward and tell you they had a medical issue to deal with. Um, instead of having the [00:39:00] opportunity just to adjust their hours or give them a little bit of flexibility to deal with whatever their personal crisis was.
So you want to try to have a culture in your company where, you know, managers give their reports, the feeling of comfort, where, you know, if they have an issue they’re willing to come forward and discuss it as opposed to keeping it inside and then suffering worse consequences by not ever saying it.
Because oftentimes if you talk about it openly, as you just did an example, Dennis, there’s a solution to be. Yeah. And the majority of the time people are good people. And if you have a strong hiring process where you’re screening to make sure you have good people, and then these good people are struggling, you know, we all go through struggles in life where certain things happen.
And so when we encouraged, like Jeffrey said, radical transparency where people say, Hey, you know, I’m struggling. Like they don’t have to reveal every little detail. I mean, United States, you know, there’s, there’s certain like [00:40:00] privacy laws where, you know, you don’t want to like get their medical records. I know in the Philippines, they just share them over all the time.
Oh, my grandfather died. Here’s his death certificate. Like, all right, you didn’t need to do that. Right. But at least like let us know. And that way it’s all communication. And COVID, it’s been tougher because people have had to do more remote working versus being in the office. And when you’re in the office with people, you just naturally know kind of what’s going on because you’re walking by the bathroom or the coffee place, or, you know, whatever it is.
And you just, you have smalltalk, you walk by their cubicle or whatnot. And I love that about American airlines and Yahoo, which I, 10 years of the corporate world and those sorts of things you don’t appreciate because zoom, you don’t get those little nuances and thus you get more like mental health issues that pop up because people feel more isolated, right.
And more lonely. So I find that when sometimes there’s a problem. That isn’t as big of a problem as it seems, because you just need to have communication, right? And [00:41:00] in any kind of conflict, 90% of the time, it can be resolved where the cause of it was a lack of communication. And one of my favorite books on the topic is Ray Dahlia.
He wrote this book called principles, which I, I read on my flight yesterday from Atlanta to Vegas, four and a half hours. And it talks about how your, the, the strength of the relationship you have with your people is so key. And it’s what carries you through these sorts of ups and downs. And the key is just listening to them.
And so that they know that you are listening and you care about what’s going on, because then it’s not about them being a bad person. It’s about us being on the same team to achieve their goals. And one of the things that, that I like to say to our team members, which has worked well is the reason why you write down your goals and share them is.
The rest of us can conspire to achieve your goals. Because if you say your goal is that you want to be able to [00:42:00] take care of your mom. And you know, most people, it’s not that their goals are not like Lamborghini’s and millions of nothing. No, they just want, they just want to live a decent life and not have to work super hard, but also, you know, be able to grow and have fun with their coworkers and be appreciated for the work that they’re doing.
We give them that it’s going to, you know, 95% of people are going to be happy with that. So when you can put that out in the open, before things get really bad, then you don’t get to the point where you have to fire them. Right. All right. Who else wants to come up? Thank you so much, Ahmed for being a brave volunteer.
Who else wants to come up and role play? I thought Jeffrey’s fantastic. How about IBM? I be the employee and then Jeffrey, you want to be the boss? You want me to fire you? You can fire me or we can have a coaching discussion. Which one do you want to do? Um, [00:43:00] oh, I should fire you, I think. And what are you firing me for?
What did I do? The coach? You show will just be the coach who show,
uh, all right. But then I will ask you a question. Um, you, you mentioned, um, if you got like a convincing justification, you’re going to leave her, but how are you going to make sure in this situation that made it up? Well, that’s why you have tracking systems. Like any company is going to have some way where they have operations and they track projects, right?
So you bring up a good point. One thing that we, we, we apply, uh, the most common, I think it’s the most common project management principle it’s called RACI responsible accountant consultant informed. So when you have multiple people in the teams, not individuals, you have teams that are working on [00:44:00] projects.
There’s someone who’s in charge of the project. That’s the accountable one. There’s people that are doing tasks. That’s responsible consulted where there’s an expert in an area where you may or may not need to talk to them and then informed when people need to be involved. And so this, this racy model, you should study it.
I wrote articles and we have videos on it shows how people need to be involved. So the right people are involved the right time, instead of everyone being copied on everything. So everyone can be appropriately informed on what’s going on in their project. And when you have like, with our VA’s our sod and EOD process that helps us run our projects, then we know things.
We can catch problems before they become bigger. So star sod is start of day that’s when people check in just like in a factory or shift, right. Beginning your shift. And if people are not there at the beginning of their shift, that’s usually a sign that there’s going to be a performance problem. Right.
And you can diagnose it before, [00:45:00] you know, another week has gone by because they’ve missed a day. And then end of day, they’re providing a status, a quick status that takes less than three minutes. And there’s three things that are in the status. There’s what you did. So you know what I do today? Well, I did this, this, and this, usually the top three to five things.
And the second is what am I going to do? So tomorrow, right? What are the other things on my list? Also three things or so, and the last part is, what do I need from you? So to dependency, I need access. I’m confused. Uh, someone else I’m waiting on them to do this one thing so that I can do my part. And so when you have those, it becomes.
Pretty much impossible to hide, right? Because you have these check-ins each day and then the three components at the end of the day, right? What, what am I doing? What are, what, what did I do? What am I going to do? And what do I need from someone else? If, if people are reliable, they’re it, it will solve problems [00:46:00] before they can, it can get to the point of something ridiculous.
I’m going to tell you guys the story of, it’s not a story it’s real, but I guess it’s a real story. What we want to call it. I hired this one guy and I’ll just call him Kyle. That’s not his real name. And Kyle, we hired because he had a situation we feel bad about. And you know, it came from the hood and he was abused and he wanted to become someone.
And he told a really convincing story of, you know, how he want to be successful and speak in front of thousands of people and show how, you know, because he was able to overcome this tragedy that, you know, he can help thousands of other people that. And his situation overcome that kind of tragedy. So we hired him.
We even gave him an apartment because anyway, we just, he kept asking for things. I’m like, okay, fine. Okay, fine. Right. Gave him this apartment in this luxury, high rise apartment in Phoenix, the w six, for those of you guys who know, and [00:47:00] he didn’t do any work the first couple of weeks. And I said to Kyle, man, what what’s going on?
Oh, well, you know, um, I’m moving and there’s this other thing going on. And my car broke down like, okay. Another week goes by. So Kyle mean what’s going on? Right. And meanwhile, we’re paying him, right. Oh my by grandfather died. Like, okay. And then another week goes by still hasn’t done any work. It’s five weeks in what’s going on.
Oh, my, my other grandfather died. No. I mean, what are you going to cause he’s thinking, yeah, they’re not going to get me on this. I think to your question on that, they’re not going to, you know what, within my proof that my grandfather died, like, okay, fine. You know, then this is, this is, you’re gonna think I’m making this up or it’s a, it’s a riddle, a parable.
I promise you. It’s true. And then the next week, Hey Kyle man, it’s been like two months now, right? What’s up? Well, my best friend died. [00:48:00] Oh, okay. Well you go so sorry for your loss. You know, do what you need to do to take care of that. Let us know when you’re back. You know, I understand it’s hard to work with.
Your best friend has died, you know, shot himself or something like that. Okay. Who was in some, like, there was some newspaper article, so it’s justified. It’s like, okay, right. Then I kid you not next week, you know? Hey, how are things. Oh, my, my other best friend died. And then I think the next week after that his other grandma and grandpa died, or like, you can’t, you can’t have this.
So things happen in people’s lives. But when you see a pattern where it’s happened three, four or five times, they’re just tricking you. Right. And it turns out that when this guy was at the w six, where he wanted to get out of that lease, cause apartments don’t want, don’t want to let get out of leases.
The way he got out, I found out was that he had, he wrote a note to the [00:49:00] apartment management. People saying that he was assaulted at gunpoint in the parking lot, where there were no cameras and therefore he felt unsafe. So they let him out of the lease, but it was, he boasted to his friend, how he was able to get out of this by making up the story and the same way that we then found out later after the fact that he.
At that point, you know, we had to let him go. So was like, Hey Kyle, it’s, I feel real bad that this you’ve not been able to work for two and a half months. And I’m sure each of the, I’m not here to like argue any one of these things, but as a business, we just can’t do this because we’ve had to reassign your projects and it’s not good.
You know, what we found out that he and his best friend were gleefully. They were boasting about how they were getting Niels and all these different restaurants for free the last two months, by just going into complaining about the food, not being good or whatever it was, and just never having to pay for any of these meals.
And I thought, well, there’s a character issue and I don’t care how [00:50:00] smart both of these guys were super smart. I loved them. I thought they were just brilliant people, so much potential, but I was trying to paint my thoughts and dreams onto them. And they were just on a. Right. They were willing to cheat and we all have different sets of values and understand sometimes in the hood, you know, that’s what you gotta do.
But that was just not something that, you know, we, we found this out later. Right. Cause they boasted how they I’m meeting all these restaurants for free. I got out of my out. Cause you know, if you break the lease at the apartment, they’ll make you pay the rest of the lease or something like two months or whatever the thing is.
Right. So yeah, there’s people that will take advantage of you and people will take advantage of me cause they know I’m a nice guy. So that’s why I don’t even want to be involved in hiring. Right. I don’t even want to be a manager. I want to have other people who are integrators were actually good managers who can enforce the rules.
Not because they’re mean, but you know, they’re, they’re good at making sure things happen. Good bosses. Yeah. [00:51:00] You’re not all that clever plus you’re a wonderful storyteller as well. Yeah. Well thank you so much. Hey Jeffrey, what do you think? I want to hear wisdom from you, Mr. C. No. I mean, the, these are all, all really good points, you know, it’s, it’s the thing about, um, when you are faced with having to let someone go for whatever reason, you know, it’s so easy to feel bad about it and feel like you’re letting them down, but almost, almost always, I would say in the large majority of the cases, even though it doesn’t seem so at the time, it’s always going to lead to a better situation for the person who got fired, um, and the better situation for the company.
In other words, as human beings, our instincts are pretty good. And when, you know, you know, both of, you know, the company goes and the person who’s being let go knows that, that it’s time, it’s [00:52:00] time for a change. It’s time to move on and change is always good. So, so it’s, it’s, it’s difficult because we’re emphasis.
Most of us, uh, people. So, so we feel for that person that we can understand what it would feel like if we were in the same situation, but almost always, it leads to bigger and better. Amen. And usually the mistake that a lot of us make is we wait so long because we just, I mean, you never want to fire somebody, right?
You just, who wants to have that conversation. Right. And you hope for the best, and you’re hoping things will turn around for them. But often, unless you communicate and have that difficult conversation to talk about performance, they’re not going to change. And sometimes it causes them to descend deeper.
Usually they just didn’t even deeper. And then like Jeffrey mentioned, it creates this downward spiral where other team members notice this and it actually will prevent. From being able to hire great team members because [00:53:00] people who are awesome don’t want to be on a team where they see people who just are just not getting the work done.
Right. Who are just scared. But one of the management let’s skate by like if management likes underperforming escaped by what are the good performance feel about that? The other interesting thing, Dennis too is the flip side is just as emotionally toiling, meaning quitting quitting is just as hard as firing someone.
You know, if you’re in a good job and you’ve had a good run, but you’ve decided it’s time for you to leave, or maybe you got a better offer, a better opportunity. It’s really hard to quit. And also to let someone quit in, in a proper. Yeah, that’s true. And the thing is you want to have the best people on your team, but if they’re really good, the odds are that they could start their own business, doing what they’re doing with you and make more money, or they could work at some other company.
And I put a bunch of these folks on [00:54:00] stage to, I built their networks, which is great for us, but also great for them. And sometimes they get poached. I’ve lost three engineers that I’ve trained up to Facebook. Right. And I tell some of the recruiters at Facebook, Hey, isn’t that fair? You know, I trained them up and you took them like I’ll thank you so much.
You should pay me, uh, you know, uh, fighters. But, but, but if you do it properly, you know, the one thing, you know, Ahmed, when he was doing his little thing with you, he kind of burnt the bridge, right? He took an attitude. Yeah. I quit. I don’t care. You’re going to fire me anyway. That’s burning a bridge, right?
And especially today, more than ever, you don’t want to burn a bridge. You don’t know where someone’s going to end up where you’re going to end up. What’s going to happen next. And if someone, if you’re firing someone, you want to try to keep a good relationship because maybe they’ll grow and get better.
And maybe one day you’ll want to work together again. And if someone’s quitting, you don’t see. Leave right now, pack up your stuff and get the F outta here. Right? You’re letting me down because [00:55:00] as Dennis said earlier, it’s a natural progression for people to grow and move on. That’s a career. And how many times does someone leave a company and come back a couple of years later, sometimes to a big role because they now gain more experience.
So you don’t want to burn those bridges when either side of the coin in, yeah, my very best team member, super valuable. He built a lot of our, basically our backend and our dashboards. These are the things for like Nike and red bull and the golden state warriors. I mean, this guy is super valuable. He started with me 14 years ago and we’d been through some ups and downs because of the company, because the internet changes because of some things that happened in his life.
And. And at one point he basically fired himself because he had some, some issues I’m not going into the fall, but you know, basically his, his projects weren’t were not going well, but he came back right. And came [00:56:00] back even stronger and we double his pay. So just because someone’s struggling at that point in time, I see this.
Oh, there’s you would not believe if you knew the kinds of struggles that people around you were facing that they’re hiding super well. You would have so much empathy for everyone that you came into contact with. And I feel that way too. Where, when someone is not performing, I don’t take it personally. I looked further than that.
And I think know if I look beyond the performance issue, there’s usually a whole. Human being where they’re struggling with something they’re holding this burden all by themselves. And they don’t really have the support network necessarily, or they don’t feel like they can talk to somebody and you have to do this in the right way without violating privacy.
But if you can level with people and show that they care and mainly just show that you’re listening, you can often turn things around and they become better than they ever were [00:57:00] because they remember that you were there for them when they were in trouble. But you gotta be careful. Cause sometimes if you don’t play that the right way, like I just told you, the example of Kyle will say, they’ll take you for a ride.
Right. They’ll take advantage of the situation. Yeah. But if you’re going to air air on the side of being kind to people, not being the asshole, that’s. Yeah, we need more Jeffrey sasses in this world. Like this less Lamborghini lifestyle people and more people who know how to build businesses and grow things.
I was at a conference in Atlanta yesterday speaking in front of 350 lawyers, and five of them do over a billion dollars, the biggest lawyers in the planet. And they were so humble. Two of them took me out to dinner last night and I was just so humbled by how they’re managing their teams. And I thought, I really want to be, I want to be like that.
[00:58:00] Right. That kind of EEQ, that’s the kind of boss everyone wants to work for. One of my mentors was Dick hand. Who’s the chairman of Allstate insurance, huge company. And he’s just the nicest guy. And he said, wow, Dick, how is it that like, you’re such a nice guy and you’re the CEO of this multi-billion dollar company.
And he told me, he said, Dennis, It’s because the nice guys are the ones that other people want to work for. Right? You don’t want to work for an asshole. So in the movies, there’s the idea that, you know, the mean, like cutthroat, get stuff, done, work super hard guys. The one who moves his way up and starts the big company and becomes really successful.
That’s in the movies. And that’s more like middle management and corporate America where there’s politics and stuff. But if you are an entrepreneur and you own a company, or you’re a startup founder or whatnot, it’s the, the, you know, people say the nice guys finish last, maybe, but the nice guys are the ones that win and [00:59:00] people will know you by how you treat other folks.
And when you fire people, other, you, you bet other people notice. Right. And they see what you stand for. They see what your values are, but in the same way, like Jeffrey mentioned, if you don’t do anything, they also see that you’re an absentee boss. And that means no, one’s really watching the cat is away.
The mice will play. So you definitely, every everything you do and everything you don’t do sends a message. It’s like being a parent with your kids, you know? Um, you’re the CEO or founder or manager, you know, you, your reports look to you the way children look to their parents and they’re gonna take signals from you by your behavior.
Okay. Yeah, well, guys, this is the coach you show. Every week we meet 5:00 PM, Pacific 8:00 PM Eastern. And today we talked about how do you fire a team member? You [01:00:00] really like having the EEQ to assess the situation, to show that you’ve listened, to figure out possible solutions so that you can create a plan for them to win is usually the performance issue is due to some underlying thing that they’re not mentioning.
And how do you help people win? Even though they’re going up and down or you’re going up and down, and everyone has lots of problems that they may or may not be talking about. I hope you guys join us every week. I’m so glad that you guys are here. I hope more of you guys will raise your hands and come in and role-play with us.
It’s a great way to practice communication quick, great way to practice and different situations that may be potentially stressful. And I’m so grateful for my cohost. Jeff said. He’s incredible. I learned so. So Jeff, I learned from, you know, I, I always learn from you at the coach. You show, that’s why I show up.
Um, no, thank you, Dennis. And thank you everyone [01:01:00] for spending an hour with us tonight, especially this time of year. I know with holidays and family obligations, it’s hard to spend the time here on clubhouse. So we really do appreciate it. And we hope that you find value in these conversations and role playing and, and discussions.
Um, as Dennis mentioned at the top of the hour, this show is recorded. Not only is it recorded, but we also have replaced turned on. So you can go to start-up dot club. I posted the link at the top and, and you can find recordings of past coach U shows. I think there’s 25 or 30 episodes up there already.
And, uh, you can also sign up for the startup club mailing list email@example.com and keep informed of other things that are going on here and start a club. And then with clubhouses new replay feature, which you haven’t checked it out. If you haven’t checked it out, please do it’s really awesome. You can actually go to start-up club in clubhouse where you can go to my profile or Dennis’s profile, and you’ll see the replay of this show and you [01:02:00] can actually relive this wonderful experience again, and we hope you do that.
So with that, I want to thank everyone again. Thank you Dennis, for hosting the coach you show, and I wish everyone a very happy, safe, and healthy holiday. Love you guys. Take care. Bye everyone. Thanks Dennis.