Need More Time? Fire Your Staff

There’s a trend I’m noticing with some of my clients right now: They’re putting more hours in their day by getting rid of the weak links on their teams.

time management coaching

Don’t postpone the inevitable.

Don’t get me wrong, my clients are not “You’re fired!” type, who enjoy terminating their staff. They’ve given their staff every opportunity to succeed, and still….

Sometimes you just need to fire someone. 

I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. Keeping an employee around, making lots of excuses, having talks, providing learning opportunities and otherwise shoring up someone who isn’t acting like they want the gig.

When you, as an employer, finally get to the point of letting that person go, it’s often been long in coming and it feels fantastic to have that release.

We dread the conversation — everyone dreads a break-up, but after the fact, most clients feel as relaxed and happy as Kermit in a field of daisies.

time management coach

When’s the last time you’ve felt this good at work?

And when you look at it through the lens of time management, the time you spend working to inspire someone who isn’t acting like they want to be there, well that’s rarely time well spent.

Plus, through the lens of team building, when you keep someone on who isn’t doing her job, they’re not only taking hours out of your day, they begin to sour the team. And the team may begin to question you’re judgment as a leader.

Top corporations have institutionalized firing, forcing reviews onto a bell curve so that the weaker players are continually culled. For some this feels Darwinian (and Microsoft has allegedly dropped the practice), while at other times it feels refreshing, keeping standards high.

Have you ever been fired? In retrospect, was this a good thing?

Or, are you in a situation where you need to let someone go? I’d love to hear about it.

Ever Throw the Game?

Have you ever decided that you couldn’t do something?

Maybe it was run a marathon, bake, or do calculus. Maybe you decided that you couldn’t play the piano, guitar, or figure out texting.

For me, it was coffee. When I graduated from Cornell with few job prospects, I went for entry level jobs. I ended up as an assistant to a CEO of a CD-ROM company, with an understanding that in 6 months he’d give me an opportunity to work in marketing.

I was a great assistant. I knew how to deliver service — I had bartended and waitressed for years. However. I didn’t want to be too good at assisting, if you catch my drift. I didn’t want to be irreplaceable.

And so, I made a terrible cup of coffee. Just terrible.

career coachingWe had a coffee pot and grounds, and I was supposed to clean it and prep.I was responsible for coffee, and coffee service to clients. How is it that an Ivy League-educated girl, with bartending and waitressing experiencing could NOT make a decent cup of coffee?

She didn’t want to.

I know I’m not the only one who does things like this. Last weekend, I was visiting my parents in Florida, and had to do some laundry. Laundry is a pretty straightforward activity. I walked toward the machine, arms full of clothes, and asked a couple questions over my shoulder. My mother said, “Don’t ask your father, he doesn’t understand laundry.”

My father is a smart man. He graduated from an engineering college and made a long career for himself in business. He knows stuff, especially about geography and history. He’s a fantastic card player.

I looked at my father and said, “That’s quite a racket you’ve got going on. You’ve got mom convinced you can’t do laundry?” He smiled without making eye contact. “I do other things.”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

This choice, what you can or cannot do, comes up all the time for me with coaching clients. I have clients who have decided that they have no financial skills, or no cooking skills, or no time. Now financial and cooking skills are not talents you are born with — they are things you learn, either by exposure through your family routine as a child, or active study as an adult.

Not having enough time? Everyone has the same 24 hours. It’s how you use them. Is your commute too long? Are you watching too much TV? Vegging out with Facebook? Are you not getting enough sleep which renders you less effective all day long? There are always coaching

Personal choices are active. If I don’t want to make good coffee, I’ll never make good coffee. If you don’t want to cook, you’ll never pick up the skill. And if you decide to be excellent managing your finances, find a career where you’ll make a lot of money, or climb that fence, you’ll do whatever you believe you can do.

Career Coach: Set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal

Career Coaching SKillsA very significant component of my coaching practice is goal setting. In order to reach a goal, one has to set them.

Recently, I was working with a client who was concerned about her finances. She said that she wasn’t being paid enough, and I asked her how much she needed to make to feel comfortable. Her response, “That’s a good question. I should know that, shouldn’t I? I can’t believe I don’t know that!”

And then we figured it out. It’s easier to achieve a goal when you know what the goal is.

The key to goal setting is making a S.M.A.R.T. goal. If you’ve been to business school (or worked in a consulting firm), you likely know what this is. If not, let me introduce you to the rosetta stone of effective goal setting (most frequently attributed to Peter Drucker).

S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Let’s walk through these.

A specific goal is quantifiable. Losing weight is a goal, losing ten pounds is specific. Writing a novel is a goal, writing an outline and the first 75 pages by December is specific.

A measureable goal means there is a metric that you can use to see if you have achieved the goal. See above. You’ll know you’ve achieved the goal when X happens.

Attainable means that this is something that you can realistically do. You can make this happen; it is within the realm of possible. You have the time and the capacity to make this happen. If I really wanted to shake Hilary Clinton’s hand, I’m pretty sure that with the right amount of time and effort I can make that happen.

Relevant. Is this goal connected to something bigger in the world, in your family? Does it matter in your world, and in the grand scheme of things? Do I really care if I shake Hilary’s hand? I don’t. So it’s probably not going to happen because I’ve got other things I’d rather do. Anyone can run a marathon if they put in the time and effort. But is it relevant for you right now?

Time-bound means that you give yourself a time limit. Nothing motivates like a deadline. I could lose 10 pounds in 3 months. I could not lose 10 pounds in one week (healthfully, at least). And sure, I could definitely lose 10 pounds in a year, but at some point it will stop being relevant.

If there’s something you want to do, see if you can set a S.M.A.R.T. goal to get it done. And if you’re curious about whether or not it’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal, email me. I’d love to see what you’ve come up with.