Bad Employees Never Quit!


Great article I found in Twitter…

I had to laugh when I read the recent article in the WSJ that validated what I learned years ago. Bad employees are happy employees. In over 40% of the companies they surveyed, low performers were found to be more engaged and enjoyed working for their companies more than middle and high performers. Why wouldn’t they be?

More often than not, poor performers have zero consequences to their actions. I’ve heard more than one new manager say,” I’m just going to make their life miserable and then I know they’ll quit.” NO THEY WON’T. They never quit for all the reason this study has now demonstrated. If you have a poor performer you have to take action. It’s not as hard as you think (unless you work for the Federal Government). Here are some quick and easy steps to ensure your deadbeat moves out:

1. Start with the “bad fit conversation”. More than likely none of your predecessors has had an honest and direct conversation with this person. Too many managers are crisis avoiders. In fact, they probably recommended them for a transfer into your unit. So start off with something soft like, “ you seem like a really great person, but I’m not sure this role is a good fit for your skill set”, and then go on to list all the reasons this is true.

2. Begin the formal documentation process. It’s just a matter of time before the brief performance improvement you might see after step 1 starts to erode. So you need to put it in writing. Unless your company has a formal document, you can us a simple counseling form that spells out exactly what’s expected, the date you want the task completed and what happens if he/she fails. It’s important to keep the dates short, to be as specific as possible and include termination as a consequence. You might want to run this by your own manager or HR partner first.

3. Continue with updating the documentation. Again, it’s possible that the performance improves after your employee receives a written documentation, but make sure it’s not shelved. Update it every quarter and include new goals. It is possible that your employee will improve forever, but in my experience, it really is about being a bad fit so it’s highly unlikely.

The real benefit of finally firing the poor performer is that the morale of your high performers increases exponentially. Don’t be surprised when they come to your office and thank you for taking action. Everyone knows when someone is skating by and it de-motivates the people around them. Plus you earn the respect from your team for being someone that’s not afraid to make the hard decisions.

The Culture of Your Company


by S. Chris Edmonds

“Consider new research from management consultancy Orion Partners. Its survey of over 2,000 employees found that 24% of employees thought their bosses were overstressed, poor communicators, and lacked empathy. Only 5% of employees felt that their managers were empathetic, explained why organizational change was good for employees, or rewarded employees for their efforts.

Almost half (47%) of employees said that their managers made them feel threatened. 85% said that their managers cared more about what they did than what they were feeling.

Every one of these issues is fixable. Most managers can easily reframe key messages in ways that demonstrate care, that encourage employees, and that make employees feel heard and valued. The trick is to invite employee opinion, then refine behaviors to better serve their needs — and, in the process, create a safe, inspiring work culture.

What are proven ways to gather reliable, valid employee perceptions about your work environment?

Employee surveys are a very effective “formal” means to gather this data. Informal ways include regular one-on-one meetings, “breakfast with the CEO,” town hall meetings, exit interviews, or discussions that organically happen when leaders “manage by wandering around.” It’s amazing what leaders can learn if they are available and present for these conversations.

The path is clear: Ask employees what they think of your company and culture. Then share the results, no matter how depressing the data. Then act — repair lousy systems, coach lousy bosses and employees, etc., to improve your company work culture day by day.”

Read the entire article here:

Sharpen the Axe


My pastor, Denny Miller (, shared an interesting message yesterday. He got me thinking of how we as leaders manage people, projects, and processes.

Abraham Lincoln said that if he was given 6 hours to cut down a tree, he would spend the first 4 hours sharpening the axe. As Denny shared, there is great wisdom in Lincoln’s insight, isn’t there? But how does that apply us – business leaders and managers of people?

I’m sure there have been times when you’ve been assigned a new project or have come up with a new initiative. You are excited to dive in and show what kind of results you will get from this. You assemble your team, tell them where this project/initiative is heading, and you launch. You get the project done. Your team learns a little. You show results…but maybe they’re not the results you (or your boss) was hoping for. Why?

Did you sharpen your axe first?

Using Lincoln’s illustration, the tree represents your goals/results. You need to chop down that tree. You can see it. You’ve got the right tool. You are motivated. But if you don’t sharpen that axe, your results could be lacking: not done on time, project costs elevate, team gets discouraged.

So how do you sharpen your “axe” to ensure that you hit your results?

1. Know Your Team. Most teams have some outstanding folks. Then there are some who are along for the ride. And then there are many in the middle who can lean one way or the other. Sharpening your team is to prepare your team.

* Do they have the right skills to hit the results you are expected to hit?
* Are they motivated to succeed or are they “flat”?
* Have you communicated enough about where this project/initiative is heading? Do they know the road map?
* Have you challenged ALL of your team? Or will you just dump 80% of the work on the 20% who always end up with the load?

Your team and their efforts are the edge that will make all the difference in the cutting down of your tree.

2. Know Your Goal. Aligning your team’s efforts with your company’s truly important goals is critical in your team’s success. You, as the team leader, must communicate what those goals are. You must “connect the dots” from your team’s daily work to these goals. There is purpose in their work! Help them find it, understand it, and live it!

You may think you have sharpened the axe, but if you cut the wrong tree down, you did not win. Cut the right tree down.

3. Know Your Progress. Most projects/initiatives are not completed in a day. It can takes weeks or even months. It is your responsibility as a leader to let your team know how things are going.

* Are new skills required mid-stream? Then train and develop your team.
* Does your team know if they’re half way through the “tree” or close to the end? Keep a “scoreboard” or dashboard updating results along the way to the goal.
* Does your team know if their work is resulting in success or do they feel it’s just busy work? Keep connecting purpose back to their work.
* Have you been encouraging little successes, coaching to strengthen weaknesses, and counseling to get some of the team back on the right track? If you don’t do this, who will? You are the leader.

This step is very important in the process of hitting your goals. It requires communication. It requires further “sharpening” if motivation gets dull. It requires momentum. It requires your personal involvement as the leader.

4. Finish Strong. When you put in the work, keep your axe sharpened, encouraging your team along the way, celebrate when the work is done and the results are achieved (or exceeded!). Show your team where they grew (they may not specifically know – point out individual accomplishments and growth steps).

5. Prepare for the Future. The axe will be pulled out again. Keep your team focused and honed, ready for the next challenge.

Cutting down a tree is hard work. Having a sharpened axe makes all the difference. Having a developed, motivated, capable team will also make a huge difference as you tackle and succeed in reaching your goals.

Sharpen the axe!

The Surprising Path to the Top by Dan Rockwell

Just discovered this blog:

Very good!

Top tier leaders develop their leadership; bottom tier leaders don’t. Lousy leaders don’t develop their leadership.

Those who need it most – want it least.
Those who need it least – want it most.

Simple test:

Ask yourself, “What am I doing to develop my leadership?” Lousy leaders don’t have an answer.

Number one:

I talked with Marshall Goldsmith, yesterday. He’s been on my bucklist of people to talk with. Harvard Business Review named him the number one leadership thinker in the world. Marshall said the best always strive to be better.

Surprising path to number one:

Marshall said I always learn more from the people I coach than they learn from me. He’s not minimizing his value. It helps that he only works with top leaders of top organizations in the world.

Grow your leadership by growing others.

Help yourself by helping others. Teachers learn more than students.

The surprising path to the top is helping others to the top.

Unselfishly develop yourself by unselfishly developing others.


Know less. Even if you think you know, listen and learn.

In and out:

People ask me how I come up with a leadership post six or seven times a week. I always answer the same way. I’m putting more in my cup than I’m taking out. A conversation with Marshall Goldsmith is one example.

Keep filling and pouring out of your cup.

Writing Leadership Freak is part of my leadership development. You think I do it for others and that’s true. I also do it for me. What I take in, I give out.


Here’s a tool to help you develop others and yourself: “Managers as Mentors,” by Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith.

How are you developing your leadership?

Leaders – Get Real by Margie Warrell


Leadership is far less about what you are doing, than about who you are being. If you think about the people who have influenced you most over the course of your career and life, it’s likely that what impacted you most was not what they did, but about who they were being while doing it.

Genuine. Honest. Courageous. Resilient. Real.

Indeed, engaging authentically with the people around you is the first task of genuine leadership.

In today’s culture, where so much emphasis is placed on the superficial, people crave authenticity. Employees today are hungry for real what-you-see-is-what-you-get leadership. The most inspiring and influential leaders therefore don’t lead because of what they do (though they do plenty), but because of who they are. Too often leaders and those who aspire to be, forget that.

When you’re able to connect authentically with those you seek to lead, you become more approachable, more trusted and more influential. Below is summary of the five ways leaders can unlock the power of authenticity which I wrote about in my latest book Stop Playing Safe. When you commit to embracing and practicing each of them, you will grow into a leader others will connect to more easily, follow more readily and be willing to put themselves on the line for again and again. In the end, there is not greater test of leadership than to inspire greater authenticity and courage in those you lead.

1. Share Authentically— Unlock The Power of Vulnerability

Sharing ourselves authentically often goes against our instincts for self-preservation. It explains why, when we anticipate finding ourselves in a vulnerable predicament, our automatic reaction is to protect ourselves: pull out of the launch, cancel the meeting, step back from the relationship, or retreat from centre stage. Yet it’s through becoming vulnerable that we can connect most deeply.

While researching Stop Playing Safe, James Strong, former CEO of Qantas shared with me, “You have to be willing to put yourself at risk in the way you communicate and interact with employees.” We trust people who don’t need to prove their superiority, success or significance in any way—who can connect from a place of being ‘human’ a bit better than the rest of us.

When people can relate to you as a fellow human being—rather than as someone with the power to cut your budget or outsource your job—you can build engagement and lift performance beyond anything ‘unreal’ leaders ever can. As Harvard Researcher Shawn Achor wrote in The Happiness Advantage, ‘The more genuinely expressive someone is, the more their mindset and feelings spread.’

2. Express Authentically— Unlock The Power of Individuality

Margaret Thatcher once said, ‘You cannot lead from the crowd.’ While sometimes leadership entails confronting powerful forces of opposition, as Thatcher did with single-minded determination, more often it requires standing firm against the powerful inner forces that drive us to conform and vanilla down that which makes us different.

When all we do is try to fit in, we negate the difference our difference makes. As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, ‘Owning what makes you different enables you to differentiate yourself and build a unique brand in your work and in the career ‘marketplace.’ It’s important to be mindful about how others perceive you, but when you allow what you think that they might think determine who you will be, you sell out to conformity and deprive those around you of the unique contribution you have to make.

3. Listen Authentically— Unlock The Power of Presence

Listening is the most powerful yet poorly practiced of all leadership skills. Authentic listening is done with the intention to see the world through another’s eyes, not to have them see it through yours. Listening authentically not only enables you to break down the barriers that cause people to withhold trust, but it fosters collaboration.

Unlocking the profound power of presence takes not more than putting your agenda aside and allowing yourself to be fully present to the person you are being with – opening yourself to see what they see and feel what they feel. If you haven’t tried it for a while, do yourself a favor and do so today. The impact you can make both on yourself and the person you are being present to can be profound.

Read the rest here:

The Silent Company Killer by Jeff Schmidt


“I don’t know why I’m so mad about this.”

That’s what I told a friend. Deep inside, I knew why. It was May. And our team had finally received goals for our annual review. I can still remember those metrics used to measure us:

– Achieve sales goal
– Submit daily plan
– Complete cost analyses (within 48 hours of request)
– Keep database current
– Come from a place of ‘Yes’

Our manager had sloppily pasted our job description onto our reviews. That way, he could cross another item off his To-Do list. And we wouldn’t hear about these goals again until next year.

It was just more of the same for us. The next review wouldn’t be treated seriously, no different than the others. But I knew how the game was played. When HR requested evaluations, he’d cobble together some vague observations from the past 90 days – or just re-write my self-assessment. Then, I’d get my token half hour, where I’d score high and earn a 4% raise so I wouldn’t complain.

And my boss would always finish with the same advice: “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

In his defense, my boss treated everyone the same way. We were part of the same herd. And we had all hit the ceiling. To our superiors, we were simply plug-and-play commodities who performed a series of tasks. They ignored our ideas, so we quit sharing them. Instead of immersing ourselves in the company, we fueled our creative and professional aspirations outside work. We realized that this was just a job, a means to another end. So we battled each day to pump ourselves up, imagining the day when we’d find an employer who’d unleash our talents.

We were great at our jobs. But we got the message: Our leaders didn’t take the review process seriously…so they didn’t take us seriously. Personally, it hurt knowing I wasn’t among the Hi-Po’s who’d get all the personal attention and coaching. My bosses weren’t writing a development plan for me. I wouldn’t receive the training or travel to gain more skills, experience, and connections. There were no stretch assignments or high profile projects in my future. I’d have to do it all myself – and do it on my own time.

Our reviews revealed more than an employer who didn’t recognize our abilities. It showed us what they truly valued: Cash and conformity. They weren’t worried about tomorrow. They just wanted to keep the money train rolling without interruption. They couldn’t be bothered with what we thought. And anyone who questioned them received the same response: “You can always leave if you’re unhappy.”

We were like 21st century Oliver Twists, poised to be kicked out of the workhouse if we asked for more gruel.

And we all heard that same internal voice: ‘You’re so lucky to still have a job.’ But people want more than to just keep their jobs. The best employees believe they are destined for something bigger. Every day, these employees ask themselves, ‘Will this role help me reach my potential?’ Every day, they evaluate if the trade-off – the effort for the reward – is really worth it. Too often, they come to this conclusion: They don’t see potential in us. They don’t even bother to look for it.

That’s the silent company killer: The failure to bring out the best in employees. They focus on executing tasks and fitting people into boxes, always on guard to stifle anything that might disrupt the status quo. And it’s this mentality that slowly chokes many companies. In their race to get the job done, they forget that the most productive employees are those who are learning, growing, and seeing themselves progress. Their voices are valued. They have a path. As a result, they are force multipliers who give their all.

Read the rest here:

Lessons Learned from Little League


My son’s little league team, the Pond Champs, plays again at noon today. They are 5-3 so far this spring. As I’ve been watching the games and practices, something hit me.

Developing others at work is a lot like little league.


As a manager and leader of people, I have to have a ton a patience. I work in an open-environment office – no doors on anyone’s office (including the CEO’s). While there are many advantages to this, there are disadvantages. If I want to really get some brain time focused on a project or presentation, I never get more than 15 minutes of quiet time before someone is at my desk asking a question, seeking advice, or just wanting to talk. Patience is required.

When I want to see a team member get to the next level, I need patience. Their speed to learn may be different than my perceived ideas. When someone assumes the worse about me or my team or a project I’m on, I need patience. A lot of patience (and grace).


My son’s coaches consistently teach the boys – with encouragement, being specific, with patience. The boys, in turn, have come to trust them.

How consistent am I? Am I changing the goals (moving targets frustrate teams!)? Am I moody? Am I approachable one day and the next, I’m a closed book?


Is your team performing at their best? Have poor behaviors crept in? Are they getting lazy?

My son started off the season batting well. Then, the last couple of games, his batting stance changed. He dropped his back elbow. He was under-swinging and striking out more.

The head coach refocused his batting stance. He got back to fundamentals. The same thing happened last night with fielding grounders. They worked on fundamentals for 45 minutes. It helped!

There are fundamentals that our work teams need to execute every day. Are they? Are they asking for the business? Are they providing superior service at every customer interaction? Are they cooperating and collaborating with others on other teams? Do they know and understand their goals? Are they arriving to work on time?

If not, you are the coach – get back to the fundamentals.


Is your team working together towards a common goal – winning? If not, model what a team is. My son’s coaches are constantly talking about how the team encourages each other. Cheers for each other. Helps each other. Acts as a back up for each other.

I’m loving this baseball season. So is my son. I love watching him grow and develop and conquer fears. His confidence is growing every time he plays and practices. He is making new friends and learning a ton of great lessons. Do you know why?

He has great coaches who are enabling this to happen.

Are you a great coach? Learn a lesson from the little league.