Recently I was listening to a speaker who challenged the room with a simple, but powerful question: “Would you enthusiastically rehire every person on your team?”
Growing and developing your team is a lot like maintaining a garden full of orchids or azaleas (two of the most notoriously difficult plants to grow). It requires constant attention—not only to the plants themselves, but to the environment. Without knowledge and the right tools, it’s a hopeless pursuit. A lot of people who start eventually give up.
But unlike orchid and azalea gardening, the success of your business hinges on your ability to cultivate a team of successful, happy employees (unless you’re in the business of running a nursery—then you have to do both!). So giving up isn’t an option. And while building a great team isn’t easy, there are frameworks and tools that can help you get there faster and less painfully.
As a leader, who gets more of your time and attention? Your top performer or your problem child? Your best client or the squeaky wheel? In our company, before we intentionally chose differently, our unintentional mindset was that our A-players could take care of themselves. So we directed most of our effort toward making our weakest links stronger. The outcome? You can probably guess. We were continuing to pour our precious energy into very leaky buckets…for a very long time.
Eventually, as the rock rolled back down the hill and smacked us in the face for the umpteenth time, we said, “Enough!!” We refuse to resign ourselves to the fate of Sisyphus. After not being able to find a framework that accomplished what we were looking for, my leadership team and I locked ourselves in a room with a whiteboard and created our Rock-Star Analyzer tool.
This tool poses three (deceivingly simple) questions:
1) High Cultural Fit–Yes/No
2) High Performance (Profitability for clients)–Yes/No
3) High Growth Potential–Yes/No
And you must answer with a “Hell Yes!!” or a “No”—there is no in-between. This exercise plots each person in one of eight boxdes with corresponding action items, which helps us create objectivity when approaching our notoriously subjective decisions about our people. Armed with our newfound objectivity, we can then determine the next course of action and the timeline it requires.
So, what if one of our teammates isn’t getting 3 Hell-Yeses and is struggling to achieve traction in their role? In that case, we find it crucial to first identify the root cause of their underperformance. As hard as it is to believe, sometimes (okay, maybe often) as leaders, we haven’t created the right conditions for success by providing: 1) clarity of vision, 2) certainty of intent, and 3) alignment of values.
Let’s say the above approach still didn’t work. Yep, it happens. Sometimes, no matter how many of the frustrations, challenges, and complaints we talk through, no matter how many different ways we try to accomodate, a team member still can’t seem to turn the corner. This is when we must remind ourselves to not create systems and processes for people problems.
In deciding if we need to work together to manage a teammate up, or in some cases, understanding we’ve grown too far apart and need to start the process of managing them out (which includes helping them find their next opportunity), we use another tool called the 4-Un’s: Unaware, Unable, Unwilling, Unemployed.
The Rock-Star Analyzer and the 4-Un’s are just two of the implements in our garden cart that we use to ensure we keep a high-performing team. So when that speaker asks again, “Would you enthusiastically rehire every person on your team?”, we can enthusiastically respond with “Hell Yes!!”.