How Many People Have You Fired Too Soon?

Mark Moses

You’re camping, sleeping in a tent.

You wake up and hear a mosquito buzzing around your head. It’s annoying. You can’t go back to sleep. You know it’s going to bite you. You know it’s coming.

Keeping a weak performer is just like that mosquito: an annoyance you can’t shake that distracts you and your other employees from getting important things done. And if you don’t shine a flashlight on the problem and take care of it, you’ll be up all night, swatting around in the dark.

Look, firing people is never easy. Even the worst performer on your team is a person. As CEO, you’ve probably met their spouse. You’ve seen pictures of their kids. They might be a really, really nice person everyone in the office loves.

Let me ask you this, though: is “Nice Person” that employee’s job title?

In my decades as a coach and entrepreneur, not a single CEO I’ve met has told me they regretted moving on from an ineffective employee to hire someone better. No one has ever said to me, “Mark, I fired that guy too soon.” However, many CEOs have told me that they regretted waiting too long to make a necessary change.

Top companies hire top talent. Period.

An example:

One of my coaching clients, Rich Balot, is one of the largest Verizon dealers in the United States. When I met him, the business was on the verge of bankruptcy. His firm had just lost $8.5 million, was out of cash, the numbers his CFO was providing him were wrong, and his head of sales, a very close friend, did not have the skills or the know-how to turn the business around.

We helped Rich ask some tough questions about his business, and his employees. Eventually, we brought in the necessary talent to upgrade the leadership team, especially in two key roles: vice president of sales (one of the best in the country in his industry), and the CFO. As a result of those hires, Rich grew from a $100 million business on life support to a thriving $330 million in revenue in just three years. In early 2015, Rich merged his company with a much larger company. Today, the company generates over $1 billion in revenue.

If you know one of your employees is holding your company back, you have to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Is this employee the absolute best person for this job?
  2. If not, who is the best person, and what would it take for me to hire that person?
  3. How many people have I fired too soon?

The first two questions you have to answer for yourself.

I’ll help you out with the third: Zero.

The sooner you get the best people in the right jobs, the sooner your company will start racing toward your ultimate vision and you will start to Make Big Happen.


Mark Moses is a speaker, serial entrepreneur, top business coach, and bestselling author of Make Big Happen with ForbesBooks. Learn more at makebighappen.com.

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