I can usually tell by the end of my first conversation with a CEO Coaching client if there’s trouble in a leadership position. Missed sales, lost customers, sloppy reports — more often than not problems start to gather around an employee who should have been replaced a long time ago.
So why is this person still working for you?
Sometimes CEOs just get complacent with the status quo. In other cases, the trouble employee has been with the company forever, and is very popular with the rest of the staff.
But one excuse I hear over and over is: “I can’t afford to hire the best person for this job.”
Yes, you can. In fact, you HAVE to.
Following these four steps will help you clear the hurdles you only think are standing between you and a big hire who could transform your business.
1. Admit that there’s a problem.
Here’s a conversation I’ve had with clients hundreds of times about under-performing employees:
“On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate this person’s performance,” I’ll ask.
A common response is, “Oh, he’s great, such a nice person. Everyone in the office loves him.”
And then I’ll press, “Wonderful, but that’s not what I asked. One to ten. Rate this employee’s performance.”
The difference we see between our clients who just get better and those who really take off is at the management level. The best companies hire the best people. They don’t compromise when it comes to talent. They don’t settle for Threes — they go out and get Eights, Nines, Tens.
Take a minute and do this exercise for all your direct reports. One to ten, rate their performance. The Sixes and Sevens you can work with. Figure out what improvements they can make to get to Eight or Nine.
Five or less? On to Step 2.
2. Identify an upgrade.
If you’ve been doing your homework, you already know the top people in your town, in your state, in the country. You know your competitor’s talent roster as well as your own. Who leads sales for your big competitors? Who’s in charge of their operations? What would the impact on your business be if you hire the best in your business?
When I started working with Rich Balot, his cell phone company was on the verge of bankruptcy. His best friend was in charge of floundering sales. His CFO wasn’t up to the job. Rich replaced them both. Was that easy? No. Was it worth it? Today Rich’s company is the largest Verizon dealer in the country and generates $1 billion in revenue.
3. Do the math.
“I know who the top sales guy in the region is, but I can’t afford him.”
Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. Yes, a top CFO or sales manager is going to demand a higher salary than your best friend.
But you’re thinking about the wrong numbers–you’re thinking about where your company is right now, instead of where you want it to be. And where you are isn’t cutting it.
Companies that invest in top people get big results. So estimate the impact a new hire could have on your business. How is that top person’s experience and expertise going to trickle down to your bottom line? Will this hire help you hit a huge, outrageous target that’s going to make your business grow exponentially?
Forget about whether or not you CAN afford to hire a top person. Look at the numbers. They’ll prove you can’t afford NOT to hire the best.
4. Hire the best.
Some companies make their big hires via search firms. Some CEOs just sit down with the person they want and make the proverbial “offer you can’t refuse.” But the important thing is, you’re here! You’ve identified a problem, you’ve crunched the numbers, and you’ve realized that you have to make this change in order to get your business back on track. Now do it.