Your team members are not meeting their goals. You have people, but you don’t have talent. It’s a tough conundrum and each of us goes through it as leaders, sometimes numerous times. As Admiral William McRaven once said, “Everything in leadership is simple, but the simple things are difficult.”

You know you need to make people changes, but sometimes knowing when it’s time to make those decisions is the hardest part. You see, every leader must begin by earning the respect of their team and that means you must be able to set high standards and hold people accountable when they fail to meet those standards. It doesn’t make them bad human beings, but just not a fit for the organization. We must understand that others are watching and it’s our character as a leader that’s questioned when we allow people to slack. Once in a while, everyone can have a day, or week, but when a week turns into weeks or months, we have a problem.  

Recently, we went through the exercise of looking at each of our departments throughout our organization. The goal at hand: To understand who is doing what and how that adds value to the organization; what is their “UP TO”, as my friends at The Collaborative Way would say. I think sometimes it’s easy to forget our purpose in an organization. Everyone is always busy, saying they are at capacity, but the output isn’t adding up. So, what did we do? 

  1. We had everyone in the team write down their daily, weekly, and monthly responsibilities. I gave them one day to do this. Any longer and creativity sometimes comes into play 😊 You should know what you do daily and it shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes to write it down.  
  2. We reviewed each person’s list. Not surprisingly, many of them weren’t even at 50% and many had overlapping responsibilities or unnecessary contingencies built on each other. Making the department more bureaucratic than efficient. We then categorized our A, B, and C players.  
    • A players are your rockstars. If you had 10 of them, the world would be a wonderful place. They are highly accountable and are good community members with the right temperament.  
    • B players are performing but not at 100% and need some coaching or accountability goals to improve. Maybe they are short of skills or have poor attitude. We can try to coach up.  
    • C players are those who are not performing or aren’t performing to the level that’s expected for that role and salary. Maybe they are toxic to the work culture. It’s tough, but true, people only look at how much someone is making when they aren’t performing. If you’re performing, no one cares what your salary is.  
  3. We looked at what the goal of the team is – their responsibility to the organization and what output is a priority.  
  4. We looked at what roles we need to execute on the vision and do we have the team members today to meet those goals. If so, put a name in the box. If not, can we merge roles to optimize? 
  5. We built out a new org chart for the team with the roles we need and who will be filling the seats.  
  6. We set expectations and created new job roles for people where their contribution was less than 60% useful. We sat down with each team member where the role was being modified and had a conversation. 
  7. We made some tough decisions and began hiring.  

Having gone through this process — and yes, it was tough — but not our first time, it helped new leaders understand the process of identifying effective talent.  

Every company has similar challenges, whether you’re 10 people or 600, sometimes we add team members to fill roles. But over time, the role evolves to the point where their work may not be producing the desired results. It sucks, I’m being honest, but you owe it to your team to be a strong leader. If someone is not lifting their load, someone else is having to lift more than their share to compensate — and that’s a tough place for you to be effective as a leader. It leads to unhappy A players, and your C players are enjoying the ride.  

I strongly recommend that every team engage in this exercise at least once a year. When you build a culture of accountability, you’ll be surprised how well your team meets the challenge and builds a team of A Players.  

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