Even as you read the title of this blog, did someone come to mind?  Is it time to decide about the person “on the bubble?”

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, was asked at the end of his remarkable career, “What would you have done differently.”  He responded, “I should have moved faster.  There were times I had already made the decision and then took too long to act.”  This is interesting coming from a guy who is known for his decisive action.  The GE culture is to be number one or number two in every market they participate in…or they get out of that market.  People produce or they go.  Yet, even Jack wished he had moved faster.

You are responsible for two things. You are the leader.  As such, you have two responsibilities that you can never delegate:

  1. You are responsible for the direction of the company.  Where are you going and why?   It’s your job to decide.
  2. You are responsible for the financial condition of the company, for keeping the company alive and well.

I work with lots of clients who are struggling to get profitable.  100% of the time, I recommend a selling price increase.  It is rarely possible to “cut” your way to profitability.  Playing “offense” is increasing Sales:  good sales at the right price.   “Defense” is managing expenses:  making sure that you are spending the right amount on the right people, materials and services.  In business, you have to play both “offense” and “defense.”  People are your number one expense.  Are you willing to commit time, money and energy to people who are not willing to pick up the pace?

Think about what you want and why you are in business.  Update your Biz Plan.  Update your Budget.  Refine your Organizational Chart.  Then – deep breath – consider your team.  Who should stay?  Who should go?  Who is on the “bubble?”  Should you adopt a faster approach to business, your team needs to get on board.

Some team members may love it.  “Let’s go!  It’s about time to kick things into gear around here.” 

Some may be more cautious, afraid, perhaps, of letting you down or making a mistake.  Visit with each team member…collectively, individually…and let them know it is OK to think and act.

Do you have an Operations Manual?  If so, dust it off.  If not, commit to building one.  You can’t put everything in the manual.  Let them know that there will be times that they have to make a call.  Also let them know that if it is in the manual, you expect them to use the written procedure.

The “Fall On Your Sword” speech…

“I’ve been thinking about what we do here.  And, why we do it.  I’ve been working on my Biz Plan and our goals for 2012, and 2013.  Let me share where we’ve been…where we are now…and where I see us going in the future.  It’s about more than just plumbing for me. 

“I also realize that I have been negligent in upholding what is important to me.  In our Operations Manual, we have laid out the basics.  Systems and procedures for how we do things here.   We can improve our systems and I encourage your feedback and input.  As we improve the basic systems, we can update and add to the manual.  There may be times that you need to make a call.  If it’s not in the manual, make the call.  If it is in the manual, I am going to hold you accountable for that procedure, for that behavior.  We have the opportunity to create something really special together with this business.”

Before too much more of 2012 slips through the hourglass, consider…

Who should stay and who should go? 

The ones who should stay are the willing ones.  The ones who want to help you build something special and are willing to play the game straight.  Let those team members know how much you appreciate them.  Catch them doing the right things and acknowledge it.

What about the ones on the “bubble”…

There may be team members who are on the “bubble” because they have not yet demonstrated that they can do their job successfully.  Consider these words for getting someone on track.  Let’s use a Service Tech for example…