This week on The Growth Whispers we discuss how to decide what to do when you’re unsure about a person on your team. When should you fire a person, when should you performance manage a person? Is the person right for the role? We go through Jim Collins 7 people questions to decide what you should do with an employee you’re worried about. We provide insights, stories and clarification about each of the 7 questions to ensure you are confident about what to do when an employee just doesn’t feel right.
Jim Collins 7 people questions are
# 1 – Are you beginning to lose other people by keeping this person in the seat?
# 2 – Do you have a values problem, a will problem or a skills problem?
# 3 – What’s the person’s relationship to the window and the mirror? (The right people look out the window when things go right giving credit to others, the wrong people look in the mirror assigning credit to themselves)
# 4 – Does the person see work as a job or a responsibility?
# 5 – Has your confidence in the person gone up or down in the past year?
#6 – Do you have a bus problem or a seat problem?
# 7 – How would you feel if the person quit?
Jim Collins 7 Questions For People Decisions
Episode 46 – The Growth Whisperers
The Growth Whisperers is a weekly podcast hosted by Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence two advisors to mid-market businesses, one Australian, one Canadian, who each work with CEOs and Leadership Teams across the world with a mission to build enduring, great companies. Each weekly episode covers interesting situations and questions from the world of strategic planning, leadership development, talent and hiring in high growth entrepreneurial companies where real results matter.
Kevin Lawrence 00:12
Welcome to the growth whispers podcast where everything we talk about is helping leaders and CEOs and people driving companies to build enduring great companies. I’m Kevin Lawrence, and I’m joined today with my co host as I am every week, Mr. Brad Giles, Brad, how things going for you today.
Brad Giles 00:33
Things are pretty good and today, we’re gonna switch it up a little bit and start out intro with something that we kind of recommend people do in meetings. And that is, so what’s your one word, or one phrase that kind of summarizes where you’re at today? So for me, it could be personal, it could be professional, but for me, I’m thinking it’s the weekly meeting. And that’s just because as a contemplate, isn’t that renounces. Yeah, it could be a word or a phrase, or a joke. Okay. But as I contemplate where we’re at, where I’m at what I’ve been doing so much time has been working with teams trying to get weekly meetings, right. It’s been a real central part of what I’ve been doing. And, and making sure that we’ve got the agenda, right. And that it’s, it’s a habit that’s formed. So yeah, to kick us off my first one phrase open would be weekly meeting all about yourself.
Kevin Lawrence 01:39
Yeah, you know, and before we go, I was thinking, I didn’t have my weekly meeting with my team today, because it’s family day here in Canada when we’re recording this. And I really missed it. Like our weekly meetings are amazing. We come together, we sort stuff out, we make decisions, and we move the firm ahead. And we help move our clients ahead because we’ll troubleshoot some client issues as well. So and it reminds me a quote, you know, meeting is leading. Meetings are the leader’s main leadership tool. So yeah, it’s a powerful world. And I missed that today. But I was recording a video and I sent them a video just you know, wishing them Happy Family Day, because I really missed that meeting. My word today, you know, I would say happy. But that’s like, too cheesy and blah, I’m actually calm. And calm is not a state that I am normally in I’m high energy and you know, a little always on the go. And I had some time over the weekend to chill, I got a couple of mornings to really just take it easy. Like I had a morning where I got up and watched part of a Netflix series for like an hour or 90 minutes. Like that is not the normal way I operate. And it was actually good. I feel like things really got to settle down. Had some good time with some friends and some kids. But yeah, so it’s Kevin being calm, which people that know me, well would probably laugh at that thought. Because that’s, that’s far from a little bit unusual. But it was rejuvenating. And that’s, you know, for us as leaders, and we’re pushing hard all the time. We need that sometimes. And I ended up not going away this weekend because it was way too cold where we were going to go up in the mountains and yeah, so I ended up with some chill time and some calm and it was actually it was great. It was really good.
Brad Giles 03:38
Awesome. Well, let’s see how we go with that.
Kevin Lawrence 03:43
Let’s go with that concept of take the call the weekly meetings into our show.
Brad Giles 03:48
Yeah, and look, we’re role-playing as well, like, you know, it’s a good way to open up a meeting to talk about what’s your one phrase open or your one word open either way. So you know, we’re obviously doing it for a reason there. So tell us what have we got on the show today?
Kevin Lawrence 04:07
Well, today we have seven a series of seven of the most brilliant questions for making people decisions you will ever hear. I heard first heard these from Jim Collins a few years ago in a private lab where we’ve taken a bunch of CEOs to go spend a couple of days within as little celebratory and bolder groups from all around the world amazing events. I mean that the gym is the master of masters. He is the researcher of what it really takes to build a very great company. amazing work. But he shared these seven questions and they’re so damn simple, but they’re brilliant when you need to make a decision, what Jim calls the demarcation line, that line that you cross and you decide whether you’re going to develop a personal Or let them go and replace them. And leaders struggle with this all the time. And, you know, we do, you know, quarterly reviews of talent or at least twice a year with essentially every company we work with, because it helps to build the strength of the team. And but people always struggle with how to decide to make the call, do we continue to develop them? Or to replace them? It’s not an easy question. Unless you use these seven questions. So these, these seven questions are outstanding, and they give you incredible clarity on what to do with your people.
Brad Giles 05:39
And so often, you and I, when we’re coaching or working with CEOs and leaders, you know, we inevitably get to the point where we’re saying, Well, what do you, you know, what seems to be the problem here, and then the person is responding. And they’re saying, Well, I’m just not sure if person x is going to make it, I’m not sure some of the behaviours that they’ve exhibited, or some of the things that are happening, like it doesn’t, it doesn’t feel right in the gut. And that ambiguity, what we’re trying to do here is is to, is to put some discipline around that to say, if you ask those seven questions, it should give you a greater sense of understanding about what to do next, really, how should you do and like, it is absolutely amazing how long people will go in that state of not knowing of just uncertainty. And it has a negative impact all the way through, I first came to understand these questions in their current form, when I read beyond entrepreneurship 2.0 by Jim Collins, which we’re obviously talking about today. Yeah. But many of these questions I was already intuitively using with clients when I was coaching them was because this comes up. So often, there’s a value that I hadn’t used in that format before, but overall, just a great formalism to work through to help you to get to a place of confidence about the individual.
Kevin Lawrence 07:23
Yeah, and then there’s another angle that happens here. Because as companies grow, people that were high performers in a role sometimes slip into a bad place. And sometimes, you know, you need to make tough calls and people that were great before, and you got to try and calibrate it. So it’s not just the people that you’ve hired, that aren’t working it’s long term people, where something doesn’t seem to be working anymore, and you’re trying to isolate the variables and figure out what you’re going to do. Interestingly, when we go through the now by the way, when you use these seven questions, and we have another 20 that we use with this, we use these seven, when we’re uncertain, if these are the like the deal breaker decision making kinds of questions to help us go one way or the other. And generally, most of the time, believe it or not, the outcome is to give them a shot for another quarter, based on very specific things that we uncover with these questions, it doesn’t actually lead to, you know, we’re gonna replace them automatically, as much as I first thought it might, it leads to, we will try developing these two things. Now, if that doesn’t work, then we will replace it. And you’re basically isolating what could be a management or leadership issue to what is a person’s issue and reconciling those two with a clear action plan. So they’re there, they’re absolutely beautiful. And they give you a much, much greater sense of certainty about your decision. So should we just jump right in, and by the way, and his new book, be 2.0 wishes beyond entrepreneurship, which was his first book he ever wrote. This is an update to it. And it’s fascinating in the audiobook, and I’m an audiobook person, what I love is they use two different voices. Jim’s voice is the new content. And then the other reader’s voice or the other person’s voice is for the content that was there. So they’re honouring the old content, and then they’re putting the fresh new insights into it. It’s um, it’s really, really highly, highly recommend the book. I know.
Brad Giles 09:35
I’ve said this before on the podcast, but before this second version of beyond entrepreneurship. You and I did an event with the growth faculty actually yet where Jim was a guest and we were asked in the questions What was your favorite book, and I was one of very few people whose favorite book was beyond entrepreneurship amongst Good to Great, great by choice, all of these other ones. So Yeah, I’m a massive fan of the prescriptive nature of beyond entrepreneurship. 2.0 and the original. And yeah, it’s awesome. Definitely one of our favorite books here. So let’s jump straight into it, shall we? Yeah.
Kevin Lawrence 10:18
So question number one, Are you beginning to lose other people by keeping this person in the seat? When he says seat he means job. So is this person because they’re in your company, causing other people to leave? In particular good people to leave? Because they’re frustrated to work with or frustrating? Sorry to work with?
Brad Giles 10:42
Yeah, the Beyond this, or behind this? A players won’t work for B’s or C’s, right? Yes. So. So there’s a little bit of context in there. Now, it doesn’t matter hierarchy, really, where they are, they could be two layers down. But if we’re beginning to lose people, that, you know, I’ve seen people say, you, but this person has got, you know, this person, we would lose so much revenue, we would lose so much money
Kevin Lawrence 11:16
showed how talented they say they the customers love them.
Brad Giles 11:22
Yeah, yes, all of those things. And yes, I want them to become better. And I know that we’ve lost one or more people because of that person. And then they justify it by coming back to I can’t reconcile the fact that this senior person might go. So if you’re losing people, because of another person like that is imagine a person waving up 10 foot flag that’s colored red, as big as you can in your boardroom. That’s what’s happening here. Right? If people are resigning, because of other people, this requires action.
Kevin Lawrence 12:04
And that means you should and by the way, in companies we work with I am very, very passionate about making sure we do exit interviews when we lose good people. And there are some people on HR teams internally that can really excavate the truth. And sometimes when it’s really sensitive, you might not do it. And we know one person on our team that does a lot of exit interviews to go in for sure get the truth. So if you lose an A player, it’s a massive sin, big problem, please make sure you’re doing a proper exit interview to really get the goods. And through this, if people are naming the same person again and again, or that they all work under that same manager, one layer or two layers down, there’s patterns there, we got to pay attention to it. So that’s one thing. Generally, if they’re causing you to lose good people, you’re probably going to be more likely to replace, as long as they have been given the feedback and you know, told they need to work on it. And you know, they have it, which you know, often is the challenge, we don’t often give people the feedback they need, and let them know the behavior has to change. So number one, Are you beginning to lose other people by keeping this person in the seat? Number two, I love this one. And when we do this one for people will go through and review you know, entire leadership teams, or, you know, Jim calls the key seats, and which is somewhere between the top 20 and 50 or 70 people in the organization, the most important roles. And then when we get to this question, when when we’re just some concerns, we will make very specific notes in our documentation about what is and the question is this? Do you have a values problem, a will problem or a skills problem? So basically, what’s the issue with the person and it might be none. But is it values like they don’t fit. And what we’ll do then is we will note the specific core value of the company and what the specific issue is, because at the end, you know, spoiler alert, you kind of do something. So we’re starting to make notes, you do otherwise, it’s just it’s not an academic exercise, you’re doing this so you can have a conversation and give them feedback so they can hopefully, meal be fit for the job. So valuable
Brad Giles 14:29
things, I’m sorry, all of these things can be, you know, can be critical. If the person doesn’t align them with our values. If they are actively breaching the values, you know, like that isn’t going to go away as a problem that that’s going to be the if the person doesn’t have the will to succeed. If they you know, just want to coast along or they don’t want to achieve the numbers that we set as a business or they’re not determined. That’s not going to go away. And equally, if they aren’t skilled enough, it’s not gonna go away.
Kevin Lawrence 15:04
Right? Or if they have a serious, you know, anger issue or if they’re seriously, you know, rude or disrespectful to people, sometimes that stuff doesn’t change. So, is it a values problem? If so, what is the, or the second one is that a will problem is that they don’t have that will to do great work, they don’t push through to completion or, or do that extra 10%. That’s a tricky one. Because values problems are kind of burnt in will. Sometimes people can have a real problem, because they’re reporting to the wrong manager. Their manager is demotivating them and and and they’re not liking it, sometimes they can have a real problem because they’re in the wrong job. Yeah, right. And those are both kind of environmental factors of the person that you work with, or the team that you’re on, and the actual job that they’re doing. So with the will problem, we’ll know what is the specific issue. And then we’ll also have a discussion, what might change that. And we start having a conversation about their strengths and the areas where they generally thrive.
Brad Giles 16:08
Because sometimes we got to change a role. Often we have to change role. We, I had an issue with that this morning, in fact, and we was working with a leader and we were talking about an individual who was shipping on time. So they’re, the product was shipping on time, which was the metric and they got here, but it’s just not working. Because there’s lots of unforced errors. There are lots of things that are happening, that it’s not connected to the shipping time, but the customer will ring up and say, Oh, look, we’ve got this problem with that, or we’ve got this problem with this. And so when we drill down into it, it was about the person’s will they didn’t have the will to, to dot the i’s and cross the T’s in terms of quality. Now, we’ve found workarounds to that now. But yeah, we had to drill into exactly what it is.
Kevin Lawrence 17:00
Yep. And you know, isn’t it! We had one leader in a company he was he was really good at his job. And he was really big on coaching his kids in sports, it turned out that his priority was coaching his kids in sports. So you know, that was his number one. And I mean, that’s perfect for him in his life, but it affected his role, because he didn’t have the will to put in the extra work that was required in the role he was in. And which was, you know, it that didn’t work out so well, because it’s it was he was his priorities were elsewhere. And then the final is skills problem. And I mean, I think, Brad, I think we all have skills problem. Well, we’re all constantly learning, but is it a lack of skill, keeping them from thriving in their role? And, you know, and you got to look at is it a developable skill, a skill they can get better at, we go back to top grading and their competency grid, and the red, yellow, green, and red means very difficult to change, you know, competencies and skills are, you know, in the similar direction? So you got to, is it a skill that people can learn? You know, if they’re not assertive enough, that’s not going to change? Right? If they’re not good at analysis, probably not going to change. But there are a lot of skills that some people, you know, might need to learn more on Excel or the or customer service training or who knows what, but is there a skill programming problem? What is the specific skill and, you know, it’s not up to us to decide, in some cases, whether they could or couldn’t learn it? We got to give them the feedback, give them a chance. And then if a couple quarters in a row, that skill hasn’t changed, and it’s critical to that role? Well, maybe we need to look at a different role, or, or, or a different company. So question number two, in summary, do you have a values problem? A will problem or a skills problem? I want to take us to number three Brad? I love this one?
Brad Giles 18:53
Number three, what’s the person’s relationship to the window and the mirror? An unusual question, but let’s just dig into that. So the right people look out the window when things go right. giving credit to others, okay? the wrong people look in the mirror assigning credit to themselves. Okay, so when things go, right, the when things go well, the right people are saying our team did a great job. They’re saying I want to acknowledge person, a person B person say they’ve done a great job. the wrong people are when things go well are saying yes, I did a good job here. Okay. inversely, when things go wrong, the right people are saying it was that person or that person or that person they’re looking elsewhere, they’re not taking accountability. So what is there when
Kevin Lawrence 19:51
I look at this Brad and I look at this a simple summary of that for me is I look at it is when stuff goes wrong. Yeah. Do they point out the window blame somebody else, or do they look in the mirror? Yeah, you know, and we’re looking for mirror people, people that self reflect when things don’t go right. So they get smarter and more capable versus the blamers who stay problematic.
Brad Giles 20:14
Because the blindness will never change the people who are always looking out the window, they’re always going to be like that, that
Kevin Lawrence 20:24
and you can’t ignoring the data, they’re ignoring the data, the data says, You screwed up, but they’re ignoring the data, so then they don’t have to change.
Brad Giles 20:34
Yeah. And, and we can’t operate as an effective team with those kind of people. You know, if you’ve got four people in a team who are all looking out the window, and one person who’s looking at in the mirror, or vice versa, like this is gonna catch up with you, you’re not going to be able to sustain that.
Kevin Lawrence 20:56
Yeah, and they’re irritating as hell. Because they don’t, they will lose Well, they make excuses all the time, and they don’t get better. So if you’ve got a window person that looks outside, and we all make excuses, sometimes we are human, we’re prideful, sometimes our pride gets in the way. Right. And I, I have done it. I try not to but I, you know, we’re still human. But those people generally, they’re not good learners. Because when you look in the mirror and take responsibility, it hurts. And it forces growth. So yeah, we have had many, many people. And this is one of my favorite questions in this as well, because it’s a real defining question. The people who look in the mirror can learn and grow, or have the ability to learn and grow, they may not have some skills to be able to do that. But the people who go who continually blame if that doesn’t change, it’s gonna be Groundhog Day. And you’re gonna have the same issue again, and again and again. And normally, you know, the people that can’t look in the mirror, it’s a pride or an ego issue. Yeah, or insecurity issue where they have a hard time admitting fault.
Brad Giles 22:03
And that’s, you know, and I’m sorry, go ahead. No, go ahead. Go ahead. read that. And that’s important. Because we, we don’t want to point fingers, it’s not for that purpose. We want them to learn and grow. When we come together with a team or people were looking at them and saying, How can we get this person to come better? They’re always pointing blame at others, they’re never going to be able to learn. And that’s just such as such a fundamental problem to growth.
Kevin Lawrence 22:33
Yep, it’s and it’s, and in many ways, it sort of is that can be a deciding question. If they, if you can’t help them shift, and then sometimes you got to work with them and try and help them. If you can’t get them to be more of a mirror person when things don’t go right. They’re probably not going to change. So question number three, what’s a relationship with a window mirror, the window, sharing great when things go? Well, they give credit. But when things go bad, they take responsibility. That’s what we’re looking for. So number four, do the end. This is a simple question. Do they see work as a job or a responsibility?
Brad Giles 23:12
I love this one. This is such a good one. And I think this was good to great with Jim Collins through the interviews, that they identified a data point, which was in the great companies, leaders saw their work as a responsibility in the, let’s say, not great companies, or the comparison companies. People saw their work as a job such a difference there. And when we look at a person where we’re announced that we’re uncertain about and we say, is this person see work as a job or a responsibility like it’s, it’s so insightful as to what’s really going on there. Your first question or your first thought might be, well, they go home at five o’clock. But it’s so much more than that.
Kevin Lawrence 24:03
It is and it’s interesting, even though with with with my my own team and our firm. We have our weekly meetings at 530 on Monday nights, one of the guys is on Eastern time. So he starts his version at 8:30pm. They want this time because we’re often busy during the days, and everyone is fully committed, but we had someone on the team at one point, who just you know, really wasn’t all into that. You know, they would do it occasionally, but it was more of a job for them. And there’s nothing wrong with people that want a job. Like if you want just a job with your, you know, your set hours and you know, when things get bumpy, you know, it’s you’re off the clock, you’re off the clock, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with that for certain people, but in a growth company like we work with. You don’t want a lot of those kinds of people, particularly not in leadership positions. Yeah, but you can’t Because it’s you know, sometimes things are messy and crazy, you need people that can jump in and make it happen. And, and, and that might not even be that the person doesn’t have that within them. Maybe their manager isn’t pulling out, or maybe they’re disengaged, but whatever it is they, it’s like they can’t be counted on they’re not when things are really hit a crunch. They’re not all in
Brad Giles 25:24
and think about being a an employee who reports to someone who views their work as a job and not a responsibility, you will eventually get a mindset, which is, well, if they don’t care, why should I care?
Kevin Lawrence 25:40
Yeah. And if they’re already here at 431, and if I need something, they’re not going to help me, and they’re not going to respond to my requests. You know, why it creates a whole culture like that, where people are like, forget it, if they’re not doing it, I’m not doing it.
Brad Giles 25:56
And it comes back to what we said before, right? I players don’t work for B’s or C’s.
Kevin Lawrence 26:02
No, at least not for long because they drive them crazy. So number four, do does the person see work as a job or responsibility? leaders and growing companies and the people that we want in our team see it as a responsibility? And they really care? And it’s not even just with the hours who said, Brad, they really care and, and have deep concern and conscientiousness about doing things right. Number five, and this is another very powerful one has your confidence in the person gone up or down in the past year? It’s a beautiful one. It’s the trend line, the trajectory? Are you feeling more confident in their abilities or less confidence in their abilities? It’s like, when you make a new friend, or you meet somebody new, and you first meet people, most people show up great. But at a certain point, month on month, you know, he as you get to know them better and better. Do you feel better about them? Or you know, or not feeling better about them? It’s? It’s a wonderful, wonderful question.
Brad Giles 27:08
One thing I love about this question is that it’s got the timeframe, if it just had your confidence in the person going up or down? it you know, you could be challenged by the direction of the wind for one of a better analogy, right. You know, they’ve had a bad, right.
Kevin Lawrence 27:27
Because it goes long term. It’s not Yes, yesterday.
Brad Giles 27:30
Yeah. So I love the fact that it’s, it’s wrapped up at the end, but in the past year, because then you go Yeah, well, it was all good. Until you know, a few weeks ago. All right, well, maybe it’s gone for divorce. Or maybe there’s something else that’s really problematic. Maybe having a rough week. But it’s there is such insight into the time of has your confidence in the person going up or down in the past year? Because that really makes you think about what is the long term trajectory? And how confident Am I person in this in this person’s abilities. Yep.
Kevin Lawrence 28:12
And we all know how we feel about people over time and how that changes. Now, it doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person, that just means you need to do something. Now, it could be giving them feedback, giving them support, giving them coaching, changing their job, making sure they take a vacation, who knows you know, your people, you should know them well. But it means you got a serious issue here, because they’re on the decline. They’re kind of like bananas you have on your counter, and they’re and they’re starting to get over rape and like they’re, they’re going in a bad direction. So you need to find something to change that trajectory, or you have a massive problem. So that’s number five, as your competence index in the past, sorry, in the person gone up or down in the past year.
Brad Giles 28:53
And then number six, oh, and this one will make one take a step back for a moment. Do you have a bus problem? Or a seat problem? Right? So we’ve got to step back. This is a very Jim Collins esque thing. Okay, so we got to define what that means for those who may not be familiar. So he says the first thing in terms of building a great enduring company is you’ve got to have the right people on the bus in the right seat, ultimately doing the right things in the right way. Okay. And that is there. Imagine your company is a bus. Each person has an assigned seat, they’ve got to be in the right seat. So then when we come back to this question, do you have a bus problem or a seat problem? Is the person on the wrong bus or are they in the wrong seat? Because they could be maybe they’re a an A player in a different seat in the bus. And yes, if if you’ve gone through all of those previous five questions and you like it doesn’t make any sense. Maybe what this question is saying is, well, what if they just in the wrong job, what if we put them into a different job, they could really thrive.
Kevin Lawrence 30:10
And that’s important, because we’ve talked about a few times, sometimes it’s about the manager or the role. Sometimes you have to split the role as the company grows, they might have been, you know, the, the controller for the company, and handling some of the Treasury, when you’re big enough, they might, you just might need someone to handle Treasury only. Or you might have a couple of controllers for different divisions, you might need to change a role to suit them. And I love the are they on the wrong bus. Because at this point, you’ve already gone through a few more thoughts about the person you’ve looked at in a few different angles. But the wrong bus ties into generally the core value into the core values in question number two, but you just might have them in the wrong company. And I’ll tell you, Brad, we’ve talked about this before, every company that we go into, especially ones in the messy growth stages, or ones that have been around for a long time, with a very comfortable family environment, we usually have to make some big changes. There’s a bunch of people that are actually on the wrong bus, it’s been challenging sometimes, you know, one organization where they were family members, family members of the CEO, and we had to move them off the bus. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s not fun. But if you look at what’s good for the company, you got to based on what the company needs, and you’re on the right bus, in many cases is about cultural fit. And the right seat is a skill set to do the right job. But those are hard decisions. And you and I both spend a lot of time on it. And I believe it’s some of the greatest value we add to organizations is helping the CEOs to make these decisions. And, and also making sure they give people the feedback and opportunity to step up and keep their job, ie we eliminate, you know, the CEO or the executive, and, and bad bad management practices as a problem. So that we’re being respectful to the people and, and at the end of the day, giving them enough feedback, which we’ll talk to at the end of this. But if they don’t step up, either they don’t have the capability, or they don’t want it bad enough.
Brad Giles 32:26
You know, in the book, Jim goes into nuance about this particular question, do you have a boss problem or a state problem? And he says that we’ve got the company hedgehog, okay, hedgehog, meaning, what’s our purpose? What can we be the best that and thirdly, what drives their economic engine? And he said, that what ideally what we want is to have each person in each seat living their own personal hedgehog. Okay, so you can imagine that metaphor of the boss, is that person actually living their own personal hedgehog? So? Are they deeply passionate about their current role? Or not? Could they be the best at their current role or not? Is it driving their economic engine? So thinking about it like that is a great way to think more deeply about this question, do we have a bus problem or a seat problem, because when we get all of the seats on the bus, with each person on the seats, living their personal hedgehog, and then the whole company, oh, it’s, it’s where success is born. It’s a beautiful thing, because people
Kevin Lawrence 33:33
are out there. But there’s a chapter and in my book, your oxygen mask first called sweet spot. And when you’re in their sweet spot where you do the best work, that not only do you produce great results, but you’re getting a great intrinsic reward. So you feel amazing, too. And that’s, that’s the role of the CEO and the senior leadership. Well, the CEO for the executive team, and often their direct reports to make sure those two layers CEOs make CEOs job that those two layers, you have the right people in the right seats, have excellent people in those roles, where they’re thriving. And then the executives will do with their directors or whoever’s below them and that next level, and that’s, you get the top couple, top two, three layers of a company sorted out like that. Beautiful Things happen. But that’s a heck of a lot of work. And you got to run through these seven questions every quarter for a few years to really get all of this dialed in and most companies so Yeah, awesome question bus problem or see the problem. And then it obviously begs you to action. What are you going to do about it? And then finding my the piece that is resistant to use the French phrase, the masterful question, and I’ve added my own couple words onto this to help people because I’ve been I’ve asked this question to people probably four or 500 times. Yeah, more than that. You know, how would you feel if the person quit? And gave you three to six months notice. Because when you ask how do you feel the person’s quit? A lot of people go into scarcity, better to have a body that nobody, right that but so I add in and the three to six months notice so they don’t freak out and have a panic attack. And then they can make a clear decision and if you think about and If your answer is relieved, do your job and be an adult. Right? If you’re relieved if they quit, that means you’re the parent waiting for the child to be the adult. You’re waiting for them to quit and do your job. It’s not right. It’s not right. so relieved means you’ve left it way too long. And you need to do your job. So call HR, or get your manager involved or get your board involved if you’re a CEO, but deal with the issue. Don’t make them do your dirty work, unless it’s your strategy to counsel the moat and do it in a nice way that’s different. Versus You know, I’m just, you know, Man, I wish they would quit. I don’t want to deal with it. And yeah, it’s a, it’s a beautiful question. And if you would be like, horrified or stressed or upset, that tells you probably want to fight them for the person and develop like hell, you know, you have a lot of hope or belief.
Brad Giles 36:23
Yeah. And, and so just for clarity, Jim’s question is, how would you feel if the person quit and yours Kevin’s addition is in and gave you three to six months notice. And, and, you know, again, just great insight into what are you really, why is your gut telling you this? And what’s really happening there? You know, is it your loyalty to the person or your fear of doing your job? That is making this a problem? Yeah. Right. Because I’m saying loyalty. Loyalty can equally be a massive, massive problem, especially in older companies.
Kevin Lawrence 37:04
It is when they’ve been around there since this, you know, they’ve been in the company 20 or 30 years and a person’s near retirement age. I’ve had companies where I said, well then pay them to stay home. Yeah, like, you know, if the bottom line can afford it, or the family values of the organization require it, they’re not adding value, pay him to stay home for your give them some special projects. But there’s cases where people just, they’re actually in the way and they know it in many cases, you know, or, you know, so yeah, it’s it’s a super important question. And, you know, it has been the, it’s sealed the deal on many people, and when that is a relieved, happy, ecstatic, or any kind of word like that, that comes out. So okay, now, here, hear me clearly, you know, I’m not a big believer in kind of being a hatchet man, or hatchet woman or hatchet person, you know, and being ruthless to people we want to, you know, and as Jim said, you know, allow people to maintain their dignity. I mean, ideally, we can encourage someone to go and find another role, like, you know, when it gets to letting people go, I have some strong thoughts because I’ve been involved in it for a lot of people, they have to have been really given the real feedback. And so they know that if this doesn’t, if then if this doesn’t happen, you lose your job. Yep. Maybe in nicer terms. And yes, they’re still going to act and be upset, like they didn’t know. But that’s a normal human reaction. But they, but they should know. And it should be documented. Well. And this is where HR is a great help to help you make sure it’s documented. Well, you know, when there’s been executives that CEOs want to let go, I have asked to see the documentation myself, I want to see it. I want to make sure the person’s been given a real fair chance. But there’s this piece around allowing them to maintain their dignity, you know, can we counsel them out and say it was you Brad’s, and Brad, you know, I know, this isn’t working. You know, this is hard, and you’re probably not going to be happy here. And it’s, you know, so why don’t we work on a plan over the next three or four months, you know, you start looking for another job, you know, take off during the day, when he needs you to do your interviews, I’m going to give you a great reference for your role as a, you know, a controller and, and support you but let’s just help people find something else because it’s been great, but it’s, you know, what the company needs today, based on it is probably going to be challenging. So if you’ve got a great relationship or respect, finding a positive way to help them move on now, you know, if they’re doing criminal activity, he probably would do that. But how do you like at the end of the day, the thing that I again and again, you are one someone in the company made the decision to hire them? Yeah. So you as a leader, you made an error. And or you promoted them when you shouldn’t have or somebody another leader In your company did or you kept them in the role too long when so we have a notable responsibility when someone fails in our organization, it’s not all on them. Like, it’s easily 50% our fault, because we are more because we would have made the hiring decision or the promotion decision, or maybe we didn’t give enough feedback or who knows what. So, so knowing that you’re, you’re at least half the problem, you should treat them accordingly. And, and, and, and be respectful when you’re helping someone to move up. But make the call.
Brad Giles 40:36
And this question, how would you feel if the person quit? It’s last for a reason. Because when you’ve worked through all of those other questions, it’s almost like, that’s the catalyst that it is makes you say, Oh, well, I, you know, when I think about things, like, is there work a job or responsibility? Has my confidence gone down? What’s gone down? You know, when I go through these things, like, it kind of it makes it a more solid? Answer. Do you have a bus? Sorry? How would you feel if the person quit? And, and again, I really do love that in the next three days, and give you three to six months notice, because so many times I’ve had that as well, where people say, Oh, look, it’ll be a nightmare. Because how are we going to get someone to fill that role? You know, the
Kevin Lawrence 41:32
time of the season are hard rules. Like all that stuff? You got to take the fear out of the managers mind. Yeah, yeah. But you’re right, Brad, it’s a great ending, because you’ve already gone through and excavated, much, you know, a bunch more facts and data. If you had that question up front, it’s not going to be as impactful, because it’s a high-level opinion. But now you’ve ground through the person from six other angles. Now, it’s the, it’s the deal closer, right. And, and when you get to that point, again, it’s not as often as I would expect that people would be relieved. There’s always a couple. But once you go through this cycle three, four or five times, and if they haven’t made notable improvement, at some point, now, they would be relieved, because they’ve given them a bunch of chances, and there’s been no change. So then the final thing after this is you got to go have a conversation. I mean, that’s our job as managers and leaders all the time anyway, but most people aren’t great at it. So it’s the conversation about, and it can be a subtle little conversation, that could be a really great person. And maybe we take a couple of responsibilities off their plate, or we give them some new responsibilities, or we get them to go work on this or work on that whatever it happens to be, but it’s a, it’s a caring conversation, to help the person get closer to being their best. And even with your highest performers, you should be doing this too. We use a different tool for that. But it’s a conversation, and, you know, my belief in what do you have called pips, you know, like performance improvement plans in your company or not, at some point, the conversation needs to go into their goals. Yeah, right. And when we have, you know, quarterly goals for the leaders we work with, we have one for a resilience goal based on the stuff in my book, and then a growth goal for how they grow and improve as a leader. So no content from this stuff often would go into a growth goal. Unless they need to work on the resilience that came out of this, or it might go into one of their goals for their job. But
at the end of the day, managing
Kevin Lawrence 43:41
and leading people through goals or managing by objective is the way to help them have clarity, and to make sure that the feedback just doesn’t fall on the floor and not get, you know, get taken into what they’re gonna work on.
Brad Giles 43:54
This thing between that is transparency, right. And, and the objective broadly, is that there should be no surprises. Okay. Yeah, I remember, in my company 15 years ago, there was a particular person who let’s just say they weren’t making the numbers and they didn’t want to make the numbers right. And so I simply stuck to the process, which is, in order to make this role financially work, these are the KPIs there are other peers at your level, who are achieving these KPIs. And, and continually talking about them, not on all day, every day is like, within the context of the meeting rhythm, the weeklies, the dailies and so forth. always talking about them in a way that is like, Look, you’re right again for the 14th week in a row. Yeah, what’s your plan to turn it around? So when As a leader, when you’ve got that level of transparency, this last bit take action to help them grow or leave, it should be no surprise at all. And in fact, going back to that person, that person self selected, because I said, Look, I just don’t think that I’m going to be able to make these KPIs. And that’s the, that’s a beautiful outcome, because they know that you have high performance standards here. They know what they are. And they know that you’re not going to change and they can’t kind of work or rot the system. And so they get to that point where you don’t have to have the uncomfortable conversation. It’s just like, Well, Kevin, we know that this isn’t working, you know. And so you can kind of go from there.
Kevin Lawrence 45:44
And that goes back to like the dashboards we talked about in the last episode, Episode 45, where it’s about having clear KPIs and clear goals. And, you know, so if you look at some of the basics that we make sure companies have broad is having clear KPIs and goals for each person, or each key department at a minimum, helps for clarity and accountability. And these kinds of feedback conversations, which can go into, you know, become part of those goals. Those are very simple things. And they’re often missed. And it not only makes it harder to manage people, it also makes harder for those people to know what great looks like and to perform so.
Brad Giles 46:27
Awesome. These questions. Sorry, these questions are designed when you’re stuck thinking about a person as a manager? Yes. So if you think you don’t want to do get into these questions, and this will give you a path forward, be it left or right, exactly.
Kevin Lawrence 46:42
So number one, Are you beginning to lose other people by keeping this person in the seat they’re in? Number two, do you have a values problem? A will problem or a skills problem with this person? Number three, what’s the person’s relationship to the window and the mirror? Number four, does the person see work as a job or a real responsibility? I added the word real in there. Five, is your confidence in the person gone up or down in the past year? Do you have a bus problem or a seat problem? And then finally, how would you feel if the person quit? And then the little add on by myself of and gave you three to six months notice so you don’t have a panic attack. And then finally, okay, great. Take that information, have a conference and go and work with this person and help them be successful. That’s our job. And if it is the end of the road, make sure you’ve given them a best chance and, and then let them go feel free up their future to go find a job they can thrive in, because that’s apparently not with you.
Brad Giles 47:48
Awesome. Just such a great tool for coaches for CEOs for executives, managers, just it’s so simple and good. So with that, let’s, let’s move to close. Great episode today. Thanks for listening. This has been the growth whispers podcast. I’m Brad Giles as always joined by my co-host, Kevin Lawrence. For the video version of this, you can go to YouTube and search the growth whispers you can find Kevin at Lawrence and co.com and you can find me Brad at evolution partners.com.au Thanks very much. We look forward to chatting to you again next week. Have a great week.
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