While working with many leadership teams of entrepreneurial businesses, I’ve found a common theme among the highest performing teams I coach. These ultra-high performing teams demand the absolute best for themselves with supreme courage. Now is the time for you to make the hard people moves. Your future will thank you.

How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself… ~Epictetus

It All Starts With Making Hard People Moves

Dealing with people issues in your business requires the most courage. The ultra-high performing teams don’t let the wrong people stay in their business very long at all. In fact, rarely do the wrong people last more than 90 days working for the organization.

Taking this approach to your people requires a tremendous amount of courage on a few different levels. The first is merely a human level. Often, we as entrepreneurs keep people around because we feel responsible for our employees’ livelihood. We feel bad letting them go even though we know they aren’t the right person for the organization. Ultimately, they are responsible for themselves, and you are enabling them to have an extended childhood.

It’s better to have no one than the wrong someone

The second reason we keep the poor fit people is that we live in a few tight labor market. A tight labor market wasn’t always the case and one day won’t be again. However, for now, we live with the wrong people just because it’s tough to find anyone to do the work. So, we live with poor performance because we think it’s better than not having anyone at all.

From experience, the reality is, it would be better to have no one than someone who sucks the energy from you and the organization and is chipping away at your culture. If you keep poor performers around the organization, it makes it OK. Please get let poor performers go and everyone around them will thank you. Not only will they thank you, but they will also most likely step up.

Stop smoking hopium

The final reason I see people extending the inevitable is hope. We kid ourselves into thinking the person will be able to improve and become the right person. In hiring over 900 people in my career and working with leadership teams who control over 5,000 employees, I’ve only ever seen it once. Where we thought the person needed to go, but ultimately turned it around and became a star performer. That was after a complete intervention and ultimatum.

It’s Not A Decision Problem; It’s An Implementation Problem

Not long ago, I got a call from an entrepreneur; we will call him Jim, who was telling me about their dissatisfaction about a new hire who was with the company for a little over six months. They went on and on telling me about the issues they were having with the performance and core values of the individual.

During the conversation, Jim was taking the approach as if he has no control over the situation. He was talking about how the resume and background made him think the employee would have performed at a much higher level and he was shocked. Jim also was speaking as if he had no control over his business or the employee and was asking me if what he should do about it.

I responded “You’ve already decided what to do. This situation is not a decision issue; it’s an implementation issue.” Jim was silent for a few seconds then started laughing. His issue was just the embarrassment of making a poor hiring decision. He already knew the employee had to go. He was trying to justify keeping him. About a month later, the employee is gone, and everyone is better off for it.

I’ve listened in on hundreds of conversations with leadership teams discussing employees that aren’t the right fit for the organization. It amazes me how they often talk about the employee as if they are an all-powerful being who is holding the company hostage. The reality is the leadership team, and the owner of the business just isn’t taking responsibility for their creation. They act powerless, when in fact they are in complete control.

Demand The Best For Yourself

You as a leader and as a manager need to demand the absolute best for yourself and your organization. Have courage and take immediate action. Once you create a process that doesn’t allow poor performers to stick around from the date of hire having a festering people issue for years and years will become a thing of the past. If you want to build a great organization, it requires all the right people in the right seats. Not someday in the future, right now. Why are you waiting?

Bad people are the elephant in the room. Make the hard people moves.
Poor fit people in your business stand out.  Everyone already knows it and are waiting for you to solve the issue.

Create A Hiring Process That Allows For Quick Separation

One of the fundamental ways to make sure you don’t keep the wrong employees too long is a hiring process that includes a job trial. I know that in this labor market a job trial might scare you a little bit. Have no fear, and your future will thank you. Here is a sample of an HR process we use as an example to our EOS® clients.

The Search

Even before you begin the search, you need to define the job, create the job description and decide on the salary range that fits within your budget. You also need to create the empty seat on your Accountability Chart. I also recommend having your leadership team do a Kolbe C to get clear on the right fit for the position.

Once you and your team are crystal clear on whom you are looking for, you decide on what tools you will use to conduct the search and start. I also recommend using your email list to see if someone knows an excellent resource for you. Employing people who know you are great because they have a sense of fit.


There are thousands of interviewing techniques and methods out in the world. All great work and you should use what works best for you. Here is our simplified version. Start by screening resumes and selecting the most interesting ones for you. Set up the initial phone screens. I like to ask the Dan Sullivan Question, to see if they have a bigger future and if they want a relationship with me.

If they pass the first interview, I then go to some assessments and profiling tools. We use Kolbe A, StrengthsFinder, DISC, and Wonderlic. After looking at the Kolbe RightFit and Wonderlic, we proceed to the second interview. At this point, you’ll be down to a few candidates, and you’ll want to do credit and reference checks.

A tip in reference checks is asking the candidate to go two deep. Meaning, when they give you three references ask if you can have the references give references. This way of checking references becomes unpredictable for the candidate because they can’t control whom you will end up having a conversation. It’s like magic.

Finally, you want to have the CEO interview every candidate and give the Core Values speech to start building culture right away. Have the interview in person if you can; otherwise, a video conference can work. The CEO should provide the Core Values speech in a way that tries to convince the candidate to run away. Also, a salesperson should never interview. They will end up selling the person on coming to work for the company. That’s not the way it should work.


Hiring is a crucial step to ensure that you don’t allow the wrong employees to stick around for too long. We recommend starting with an 8-hour on-the-job trial. During this trial, you are running scenarios on how they would handle certain situations. What plans would they make, how would they take action?

Arranging for an on-the-job trial is not something very many organizations do. Remember those ultra-high performing teams? They all do this.

Once you’ve completed your 8-hour trials, it’s time to decide who is the best candidate for the job. Once you choose, you then make your offer and start a 90-day trial. Make sure you are crystal clear that the final job offer will not occur until after the first 90-days.

I would recommend hiring the person as a temporary employee for the first 90 days without benefits. Once they prove they are the right person, convert them to a full-time employee.

By completing a 90-day trial, it gives you a way out of making a bad hire. There is no stress or courage required to end their test and send them packing. It’s much more difficult if they are an employee with a checkpoint.

Trials may seem like overkill, but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run.


Once you hire the person, you need to start the relationship the right way. Make sure they get all the HR and employee manual documentation, and they review it. Also, ensure that you collect all the forms for your files. Next, begin job training based on their role. You should have a defined schedule for job training and on-boarding. Be intentional with your onboarding and training experience.

Quarterly Conversations

We recommend a Quarterly Conversation with every one of your direct reports. This conversation is informal. You are asking your employee “What’s working, what’s not?”. You are reviewing the 5-5-5™ (Rocks, Roles (measurables), and Values), looking for ways to delegate more to them, and making sure you are doing what’s necessary to be a great leader and manager with the LMA™ Checklists.

You should finish the conversation with “Do you still want it? Do you still want to be here?”.

This process is very compelling and keeps you connected to every one of your direct reports.

Annual Reviews

During the annual performance review make sure to keep it simple. Complete a People Analyzer™ and complete GWC™ analysis before completing the review. Document and review the conversation with HR and put it in the file.


Termination is the final step of the HR Process and one you should pay attention. You should be following the 3-strike rule and terminate without exception on the 3rd strike.

Make sure you are firing with specificity. Meaning, you have concrete examples (not gossip) of where the person violated Core Values or has shown they don’t Get it, Want it, or have the Capacity to do the job.

Make sure you consult your legal counsel and HR departments when necessary. You don’t want to create a legal issue for yourself.

If the employee is willing, conduct exit interviews to see what you can learn from the situation so you can improve your processes and put everything into the HR files.

I know that sometimes this is hard. In the end, the employee will thank you in the long run, the employees around him or her will thank you and your future will thank you as well.

Don’t Settle For Status Quo

As an entrepreneur, you want to experience the freedom you thought you were getting when you started your business. The reason you haven’t been able to break through to the next level is that you settle. You settle for mediocre employees, customers, and results. It’s holding you back. I beg you never to settle.

If your weekly scorecard numbers aren’t on track, drop them down to your IDS™ list. Don’t become complacent or tired of talking about the same things. Stick with your off-track numbers until you see improvement. Be relentless in making sure you hit your weekly numbers. It’s the future view of your P&L.

I recommend that if one of your employees don’t hit their activity based numbers, and shows no improvement, after three consecutive weeks, it’s time to start asking if they GWC their role. You should begin the three strike rule. Have courage. You have to do what’s best for the business not your emotional state.

Don’t Wait

There is no time like the present for you to make the hard decisions you already know you need to make. Stop procrastinating. My coach, Dan Sullivan, always says “there are two types of suffering in the world, long and short. You choose.” Clearing the wrong people out of your business sooner rather than later is the right thing to do for your business. It’s going to be hard, but your future will thank you.

Use A Business Operating System To Make The Decision Easier

People issues aren’t the only reason for lack of performance.  Make sure that you have a system in place that allows people to win.  Also, hard people moves will be more comfortable inside of a defined process.

A bad system will beat a good person every time. ~W. Edwards Demming

If you feel like you have the right people in your business but need systems and processes in place, a business operating system will help you get to the next level.

organizational checkup