June 22, 2018

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Rebuilding Your Staff Employee-By-Employee

Problem: "my employees are minimal and I can’t get any improvement"

Solution: rebuild your business one employee at a time

Minimal employees have become the bane of business. These employees do just enough to get by and no more. If I see a business with good market share and potential, a good strategy but with poor results then it almost always points to minimal employees. Sometimes owners/management see this but often it takes an outsider to point it out. Once this is understood to be the problem the question I get is – How do I get rid of these bottom-feeders and get some good people in their place? The answer is to build it employee by employee. The following are some key concepts when considering a personnel ‘upgrade’:

  1. Understand that minimal employees cause discontentment with productive employees. Good employees often leave because of minimal employees. Having a minimal employee can hurt the entire operation. Realizing this is important when difficult decisions need to be made.

  2. Understand that most businesses cannot shut down as they reorganize or redesign. I use the analogy of a flying plane: you cannot stop the plane to fix it – you have to fix it while it is flying. The rule here is ‘don’t shoot yourself in the foot’. Usually this means don’t fire or lay-off until you have replacements.

  3. View employees as resources and profit centers – not just expenses. Minimal employees are usually cheaper but deliver much less value.

  4. Review your staffing at least once a week. (depending on the circumstances this may be necessary more often.) Go through each employee and determine his or her appropriateness for the business. I like to use a spreadsheet, keep notes and strategies current so they can be constantly reviewed. I ‘star’ those employees that are ‘on the bubble’ or are delivering questionable value.

  5. Do evaluations and reviews every three months. Once or twice a year is simply not enough.

  6. Measure and evaluate your people weekly. Producers welcome the attention and ‘bottomfeeders’ will do all they can to avoid the scrutiny. Find some criteria for even those hard to measure job classifications – like service rep.

  7. Find out if the poor producers have potential. Time and time again I see management wanting to fire but not looking at potential. Sometimes they are amazed when they see a minimal employee blossom. Sometimes I am amazed that management is not paying attention. It is usually better to give the minimal employee a chance or opportunity – if they do not want it they will often quit.

  8. Understand that accountability is the employee’s responsibility – not management’s. It is management’s responsibility to do something about the lack of accountability if it is not there. This makes it much easier to deal with those tough decisions when the time comes.

  9. Have a training and career plan for each employee.

  10. Hire right. The key to building a successful staffing is to make sure each new hire is better than what you have. If you do know how to hire get some help. Look at work ethic, values, maturity, drive, creativity, etc. Truly amazing things happen when you replace a ‘bad apple’ with a good employee.

  11. Look for ‘breakthrough’ employees that can bring high value quickly. This is usually a factor of skill, experience and work ethic. This can bring a corresponding sharp spike in performance.

  12. Set up a system where employees can train or mentor each other. This tends to raise the standard throughout the business.

  13. Constantly evaluate what your market and customers demand. Make sure you are hiring to meet this demand.

  14. Make the processes automatic – daily if possible. If you stay focused the results will come. Focus on the process!

  15. Be persistent. Most of my clients go into a continual recruitment mode.

Upgrading your personnel is not as impossible as it seems. Habit and precedent make businesses hostage to certain employees. Maintaining a strong staff is arguably the greatest competitive advantage in business, the most time-consuming and energy draining. Strong staffing can hurt the competition like nothing else. If you haven’t seen that yet you will as soon as your competition figures it out! And if they have you are already feeling the consequences…..

-Jack Deal

Owner of Deal Consulting

He can be reached at or 831-457-8806.