business hands of teamwork in an office in a meeting roomImagine you’re a basketball coach, coaching your team during the biggest game of the year. You’ve trained your team throughout the year, drilling into them the various plays and passes, both offense and defense. It’s coming down to the last minute, score is tied, and suddenly the stars align. Your team is in the perfect position – your point guard sees your power guard wide open, passes the ball, shoots, the crowd goes silent and you hear the perfect swoosh as the ball sinks in.

As a manager, this is what you train your team all year to do. To move with precision effort, instinctively knowing even what your teammate’s head nod means. But to build a team like that takes time, and some of the players come and go. It’s critical that, as a manager, you know when to hire and fire.

Conditions of Satisfaction

To begin, you will need to start by determining your conditions of satisfaction, both for your business and yourself. Once you have those in place, determine your conditions of satisfaction when it comes to your team. How fast do you want your team to run? When do you need to wrangle them in? Let your team know where you stand and when you’ll crack the whip, and it let’s them know where the line is. Without your conditions of satisfaction, you will have a very tough time calculating your ROI from your team.

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

In business, you are only as fast as your slowest common denominator. That means there are going to be times when you have to have a hard conversation with an employee or two. I had an employee who, despite our best efforts, couldn’t deliver the results I wanted. In turn, I had to sit down with her and say, “I love you, I’m going to miss you, but we have to move on.” It was very hard, but it was best for everyone. I know so, because weeks later I ran into her and she thanked me for firing her, saying it was the best thing that happened to her because she was now working her dream job. You may not realize it, but there will be times you have to fire someone for his or her own good. It’s not easy, it’s not fun, but it’ll be the right thing to do.

Don’t Get Comfortable

Change for change sake is never a good thing, but that doesn’t mean we should get comfortable in our ways. Your business is constantly growing and evolving, so should your team members. Who isn’t delivering on your promises and conditions of satisfaction? If they aren’t delivering, determine why. Is it because they don’t have the knowledge or tools? Train them up and give them what they need to keep them moving forward. But if they still don’t deliver, then it’s time to act. No one should be surprised when you do, especially not the person being fired.

Doubting Yourself?

If you know something is wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it, ask your top team members. Nine times out of ten, they will all give you the same name. Your team will know who are underperforming because they are in the trenches with them day in and day out.

Problem Solvers

I was on the first day of my new position, so in order to get to know the team I called a meeting. Before the meeting, I turned the boardroom clock ten minutes ahead. The room filled, and people started to notice the clock was off. No one did anything except talk about how the clock was wrong and they should bring in the maintenance man to fix it and form a committee to buy a new clock. This went on for weeks before finally a woman stepped up, took the clock off the wall, fixed it and put it back up. I made her my chief of staff the next day. You want a team that is full of problem solvers, not problem seekers. Find them, hire them, and put those people in the right positions – you’ll be amazed at the results.

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