The Clinic is Closed

by Shaun R Smith on August 24, 2010

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Fire those team members who are not performing, and who are not a fit for your company.

I was working with a client a number of years ago, and we came up with a saying when she was lamenting how much frustration some of her team members were causing her: “The Clinic is Closed.” If you have the wrong people on the bus (to use Jim Collins’s parlance), they will be a constant drain on your company.  Does this sound familiar: instead of spending your time away from work enjoying yourself and your loved ones, you are complaining about how Employee X didn’t deliver yet again, or how much gossip and discord Employee Y is sowing?

Watch the video of this post here:

How do I Know

Some signals that a bad apple has sneaked onto the team:

- He is regularly pulling in the wrong direction

- His work is not up to par

- He is not culturally a fit with the organization’s values

If you feel like you’re running a clinic, or a psych ward, or babysitting, take a look and see if you’ve got a team of A players or if you have some D players running around.

It’s Not Me – It’s You

A part of that responsibility lies with you, the business owner.  To attract great people, build a great company.  To get great employees, be a great manager.  If the regard you set for your team is so low, your employees will fall to your expectations.  People respond as you’re going to treat them.

But in my experience, while there’s improvement you could make as the owner, the major problem is just that you don’t have “A” players on your team.  If you don’t have A players, you’re not going to get great results.  And change is challenging.  I’ve never seen an employee – in the hundreds of companies I’ve worked with over the years – change from a D player to an A player.

One More Chance

I’ve also never ever had a business owner say, “wow, I should have given that person one more chance.”  It is always the other way around.  “I held on to that person for too long” because I was worried about replacing them, or because I was nervous about hurting his feelings, or because I felt bad.  And in every case, after the person has been let go, and his future has been freed – life gets better.  Guess what?  Everyone else on the team already knows who is and isn’t pulling his weight.  It affects the entire company.  It’s hard to keep A players around when they not only see your time and energy wasted on low performers, but their time and energy also.  A Players want to be on the playing field with other A players.  And if that’s not your company, they’ll find a company where they’re playing the same level game.

So the motto today: the clinic is closed!

Photo by: Demi-Brooke


Pauline Bright August 28, 2010 at 7:06 am

Great point Shaun,
I see the impact of this with my clients also. They want to have a great business that runs without them but they constantly put up with poor performance from a staff member. The net effect is always on the bottom line – low profits and no momentum in the company. Business owners are almost always afraid that they won’t find someone to replaced the poor performer but when we move that person out of the business it’s like a breath of fresh air – and it creates a vaccuum for someone amazing to fill the position.
I love the maxim “hire slowly – fire quickly” – works for me!

Shaun R Smith August 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Exactly. And it does take time to build an A Team.

But the only choice if you want a great company.

Thanks Pauline.

On a limb with Claudia September 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

This is so easy to say, and so hard to do.

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