Momentum Podcast: 362
When Great Team Members Go Bad
by Alex Charfen
It's a scenario that I hear over and over again from entrepreneurs with teams. “Alex, I hired this person. They were awesome at the beginning. It's been a few months now and they're just not as good as they used to be and they're not getting better.
They seem to be getting worse. I think I hired the wrong person.” Well, most of the time, there's a reason why good team members go bad. And you'd be surprised, it's usually not them. It's you.
When you have a team member who started out great but is now not delivering the way that they normally do, there is a high possibility that this is your issue as the entrepreneur, not your employee's issue.
When you start to get comfortable with somebody you might think that the expectations you have are clear but they really aren't. If your team member doesn't have clarity around their role, they're going to lose confidence because they don't know what you really want. Unclear expectations are rarely met.
Full Audio Transcript
Alex: It's a scenario that I hear over and over again from entrepreneurs with teams. "Alex, I hired this person. They were awesome at the beginning. It's been a few months now and they're just not as good as they used to be and they're not getting better. They seem to be getting worse. I think I hired the wrong person." Well, most of the time, there's a reason why good team members go bad. And you'd be surprised, it's usually not them. It's you.
I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast. Made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then re-write them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be.
If you've been in this scenario where you hire someone, they're great at the beginning, and then over time they get less and less awesome and you start to struggle with them, well, it might be that you hired the wrong person and that maybe there was a quick honeymoon period that made it feel like they were the right person and now you're just discovering you don't have the right person in the seat. But, if this has happened to you, there's a high likelihood that as a entrepreneur, this is your issue, not the team member's issue.
Here's why: When somebody starts with you, typically the expectations on that person are pretty low and the amount of clarity that they need is not that high. Here's the challenge. As somebody works with you over time, and they are doing more and more, and they're accomplishing more for you and doing more for you, what can quickly happen is that expectations can become unclear. Here's what happens especially as an entrepreneur. When you start to get comfortable with somebody, you start to think that expectations are clear when they really aren't. And here's the fact, this is a fact just like the Law of Gravity, this is a fact just like anything else, unclear expectations are rarely met.
If your expectations for somebody are not incredibly clear, if they don't understand exactly what you want from them, what outcomes you want from them, what results you want them to drive, how you want those things done, and what you want it to look like, then you will often be disappointed in that person. And what happens more often than not, when we review a scenario with an entrepreneur who has a good team member that's gone bad, that entrepreneur ends up taking responsibility. There's some simple questions I ask. One, does the person have a clear role description that tells them exactly what their responsibilities are, what is required from them, and what results they are driving, that is up to day? 99% of the time, the answer's no. And so that person already is at a huge disadvantage because they don't have clear responsibilities, clear results they're driving, and what's required from them. If they don't have that, right there you're already in a challenging employment scenario. That's the first question I ask.
Then I ask, are the project that person's responsible for, and what they're doing on a recurring basis, documented and clear? 99% of the time, I get a no on that answer too. And here's what entrepreneurs say, because I'm gonna tell you if you're thinking these things, you're thinking the wrong things. Here's what they say. They say things to me like, "Well Alex, it's really clear. We've talked about it a lot. And I've had several meetings with them where I've clarified this. The projects are clear because I sit down, I talk to my team, I tell them what's going on."
And here's my reply to that, always. "If it's not in writing, don't even talk to me about it. If you're not telling your team what you want, the team member what you want, if you're not telling them what they're responsible for and what the requirements are, in writing, then here's the reality. That person doesn't have a rule book for their position. They don't have a playbook for their position. They don't really know what they should be doing. And here's what happens to a team member that doesn't have clarity about what their role is, what their responsibilities are, and what results they're driving and what's required of them. If they don't have clarity, they're going to lose confidence. Because if they don't know what you really want, they're gonna have trepidation about taking any step.
They're gonna have trouble taking steps. They're gonna start coming to you and asking for confirmation on just about everything. And as an entrepreneur, you and I know both know how hard it is when somebody comes to you and does reverse transactional leadership, or management, where they're asking what they should do, then telling you they got it done, then asking what they should do again. But when they don't have clarity, this inevitably will happen. And as a person's confidence goes down, their clarity will go down, and the commitment that they have, not only to the role but to taking risks and to getting things done and to making things happen for you, will go down.
It doesn't matter how talented the team member is. It doesn't matter how experienced they are. It doesn't matter how great they were at the beginning. If they don't have continually updated role, responsibilities results, project requirements in writing, you're going to have them lose confidence. This is why we're so obsessive about these things. Not just in our company, but with the companies that we grow and help and train and coach. Because one of the biggest areas of deficit in business is having the team actually know what's going on. Most entrepreneurial companies don't even have an org chart.
I was just on a call with a couple of our clients and one of them only has one team member. He's already created his org chart. It's him with a team member. Here's why: He's gonna have another team member soon. Then he'll add it to the org chart. And another team member soon and they'll add it to the org chart. And when you have not just clarity around each person's role, but clarity around the projects and then organizational clarity, here's what happens. Great team members, the ones that start out of the gate really good, get better. They actually start producing more. They start doing more. You start feeling more from them. You start seeing that they're actually achieving more in the business.
So if you have a great team member on your team and they're not starting to degrade in quality yet, they're not giving you less yet, then make sure that they never do by giving them clear, role, responsibilities, requirements, and what they're actually driving in your business. And if you have a team right now, make sure that you have the basics in place. Get an org chart. Put together job descriptions for every person on that org chart and share them with each other. Then for every project you have, make sure your outcomes are clear, what you're measuring to see if you're successful is clear, and what each person is accountable for is clear. That way your team members will actually get better.
There's a huge difference between transactional management, telling people what to do, checking when it got done, and then telling them what to do again and transformational leadership. The first step in transformational leadership is clear outcomes. Then coach success along the way and get leverage results. If you're outcomes for a person, a project, or the company aren't in writing, expect to be disappointed. And the challenge you'll have is that you'll take great team members, game changing team members, A players that could make your company millions of dollars, and drive them away.
Give them clarity and let them play a game where they can win, because they have an understanding of how you're keeping score and what their role is in the process, and you will take A players and make them even better. It will change your company and your future permanently. If you're ready to start building a game changing team, we want to help you. Got to billionairecode.com. I'm gonna get that right one of these days. Go to billionarecode.com/apply. Our application will help you understand more about your business than most sales experiences you'll ever have will. And you'll understand more about what you need, where you are right now, and what you should be looking at next.
And once you fill out our application, our team will give you information on exactly how we're helping businesses around the world create game changing teams, massive outcomes, and move forward with incredible levels of momentum. Billionaircode.com/apply.