Jim Collins famously admonishes all business owners and leaders in his classic book, Good To Great, “Before you begin your business journey, get all the right people on the bus, get all the wrong people off the bus and make sure that everyone on the bus is in the right seat”. Every business owner I speak to knows this to be true. No one disputes the logic. So why don’t more leaders act on it?
Back in August of 2011, I wrote a post called How Many Sixes Do You Have? It’s based on a post by Jay Goltz, writing for the NYTimes’ You're The Boss Small Business blog, called The Dirty Little Secret of Successful Companies. The gist of the wisdom is simple. If you rate all your employees on a 1-10 scale, firing people who are objectively rated as a three or worse is not difficult to justify. It’s the sixes who are a challenge. They’re not that bad, but they’re just not good. Keeping sixes around when there are so many potential employees out there who might at least be an eight is just bad business.
In a large, seemingly impersonal company, this is not as difficult to do as in a small business, say between 10 and 250 people. But, if you are not doing this in your company then you are working way too hard to stay ahead of your competition. Getting all the right people in all the right seats is simple to understand, not always easy to do.
Help for difficult personnel decisions
In EOS, we offer a tool, called the People Analyzer, to help leadership teams assess the quality of the employees they have in a fair and consistent manner. You can download it here. We also advocate that all managers have quarterly conversations with their direct reports around their role and responsibilities in the company, the values of the company, and the objectives they are responsible for on a quarterly basis. Many companies, including most recently Accenture, are abandoning annual reviews in favor of more frequent and direct interaction with employees. Read the Washington Post article about Accenture’s decision here.
How are you making sure you have your bus populated correctly?