Dealing With People Who Aren’t Growing With the Business
Having the wrong person in the wrong job is one of the most costly and time-consuming mistakes a business can make. Yet this major business blunder is committed over and over again. Just one weak person in a key position can drag down the performance of the entire organization.
Getting the right people in the right jobs is more important than your strategy or your processes. Without the right people with the right knowledge in the right jobs, your business will never realize its potential.
Not Everyone Can Adapt to Changing Responsibilities
One of the biggest barriers to successful growth is the inability of key people to change their attitudes and behavior to fit the changing needs of the organization. As the business grows, some people – particularly top team members – will be incapable of handling their growing responsibilities.
The responsibilities of positions in start-ups and small companies are significantly different than those needed as the company scales. Managers that helped grow the company when it was smaller may not be able to make the transition to a bigger organization – they may become obsolete. The job of the chief financial officer in a $10 million company, for example, is significantly different from that of the person holding the same position in a $150 million company. Since a rapid-growth company’s annual sales could grow from $10 million to $150 million in just a few years, the CFO’s job in such a company could change dramatically in a relatively short period of time.
And it’s not just senior managers who can’t keep up. The person who skillfully supervised two people in customer service, during the early years, may not be able to manage a team of forty. Friends, family members, partners, executives hired from the outside, or long-time, loyal employees – who are not qualified for the job – are often filling key positions. Some people can adjust to the changes brought about by growth. Many cannot.
Your Managers Need Experience in Growing Companies
Companies that are growing from small to big can’t afford the risk of having senior managers who have never been where the company is going. The challenges en route are some of the most difficult in business – much more difficult than those faced by larger companies because you can’t afford major mistakes. Committing just a couple of big missteps can doom your company, and these slipups often occur because the wrong people are in the wrong jobs.
The need to grow with changing job demands puts key managers in difficult positions. People don’t always grow at the same pace or in the same direction that a business grows. The original HR person becomes the head of HR and struggles. The top salesperson becomes the vice president of sales and flounders. Too often employees don’t grow with their job and find themselves in way over their heads. These loyal, long-time employees begin to hurt the performance of the company and force some very difficult decisions.
You Need to Make Tough Calls
Changes in structure, management processes, and skills require the company to face up to difficult people problems. You can’t leave people in a role if they aren’t performing. That creates a ripple effect and begins to hold everyone else back.
You have to be brutally honest about who you’ve got on the team. You must make hard and objective evaluations – sooner rather than later – of every current team member to assess performance and determine if they have the skills needed to scale with the organization. This evaluation process will likely require retraining, recycling, and replacing people, particularly managers.
It’s inevitable that some people will lack the skills needed to succeed in bigger roles and you must either:
- Provide training and development programs to bring them up to speed
- Move them into positions that better fit their skills
- Ask them to leave to pursue other opportunities
Determining people are not fit for their jobs is one of the most wrenching, emotionally draining, unpleasant decisions that any person ever has to make. After all, these are people who believed in the business, who stayed with you through the ups and downs, and who did everything you asked. The decision is made much more difficult the higher the position in the organization. But you need to recognize when it’s clear that someone can’t keep up.
As difficult as it is, you must make these decisions without emotion and based on the facts of each individual situation. While these decisions are never easy, they are absolutely necessary to enable your company’s continued growth.
Do you have the right people in the right jobs?