Momentum Podcast: 416
When A Good Team Member Stops Performing
by Alex Charfen
If you have a fast growth company and you have a team member who's been performing really well for months but all of a sudden isn't anymore, what do you do? I like to look at the situation rather than the person. If you're growing quickly, your company is undergoing massive change. The scoreboard has probably changed.
As your company grows things become less and less clear for your team unless you are consistently updating their outcomes and accountability. As the leader of your organization, you have to ensure that every member of your team has clear outcomes, clear accountability & a scoreboard to measure their success. This is how you stop your top performers from falling through the cracks.
Full Audio Transcript
Entrepreneurs who are building teams, and building companies, and growing fast. Sometimes so fast, that it's hard to keep up with anything in the organization, including the growth and the changes. A question I get often is, what do I do in my fast growth company, if a team member has performed well for months, and then they stop performing well?
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.
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The companies I work with grow fast, like lightening fast. I just got a message from one of my clients this morning, Wallace Nelson, he and his wife [inaudible] run a supplement company, where they supply custom supplement packages to influencers. When we started working together, I'm pretty sure that we're at $5 million and change, this was less than a year ago, and I just got a message this morning that they are at almost $10 million, they're at $9.7. So, the growth they've experienced is phenomenal.
This happens all the time with the companies I work with. We typically work with organizations that are growing fast, that have massive opportunity, they're adding people to their teams, they're growing like crazy, there's massive changes. One of the questions I get all the time, on our coaching calls, in our master minds, when we're together in our Facebook Groups is, what do I do if a team member who had performed well for months has now stopped performing well, and is not performing like I want them to?
This is one of those questions that is not really ... there's not really a direct answer to. There's not a, "Oh, well here's what you do," because here's what normally has happened in this situation. You have a team member that was in momentum, and clear, and had the three things that people need in order to succeed in their job. They need clarity as to what their outcomes are, and exactly what their doing ... where they're going. They need confidence as to what they're responsibilities are, and what they should be doing, and then they need commitment to the scoreboard that they have, so they know that they're moving forward, and they have perspective if they're succeeding.
Whenever somebody asks this question, what do I do with a team member who performed well for a long time, and now is no longer performing well? Well I don't really ask about the team member, I ask about the situation, because here's what normally happens in a fast growth company when somebody's performing really well, and then you look up one day and realize they're not anymore. The outcomes, the accountability, and the transparency, the scoreboard, has probably changed.
Here's what happens in a fast growth company. You bring somebody in to do one thing, and almost immediately they're doing more. A great example is my assistant, well, I can't even call her my assistant anymore, but Hailey Heard who works with us, and we brought her in originally to be a social media manager, she was gonna help us with our social media. Almost immediately, within just a couple weeks, I had said, "You know what? There's too much talent here, Hailey, why don't you come be my executive assistant," because I need help, and I really love her personality.
Well, as she became my executive assistant, she's taken over HR, she's helping us with some people management, she's actually become way more of an operations manager than an assistant. So, on a weekly, sometimes on a daily basis, her responsibilities have changed, the outcomes she's driving towards have changed, what she's accountable has changed, and what we're measuring to see if she's successful has changed.
What we've done with her help, is we've stayed on top of all of those changes. We've consistently shifted the outcomes through our cadence, so she knows what she's responsible for. We've updated her 4R document, which is the document we have that shows people accountability, that gives her her role, responsibilities, results, and requirements in her position. We've consistently and constantly driven new scoreboards, both with milestones, like what you need to get done, and metrics measuring the results of what we have done.
That is how she has remained consistently successful, and here's what happens so often in small businesses that are growing fast. You bring somebody in, they have clarity around what they're driving towards, it's clear right now. You know, you prepared for them to come in, you knew that you needed someone, so you're ready to bring them on. Then they have clarity around the accountability, what they're responsible for, because it's brand new, you explain it clearly, they know and you know. Then typically, there's a clear scoreboard, 'cause when you first bring somebody in, you're driving towards something, and you're helping them drive towards that, or they're helping you drive towards that.
What happens is when somebody has a clear outcome, clear accountability, and a scoreboard, they will be in momentum, they will perform at a high level. When they have clarity around where they're going, when they have confidence as to what they're accountable for, and when they know what they're scoreboard is, their commitment will go through the roof. Clarity, confidence, and commitment, are what make people successful in their positions, but here's what happens over time. So often in a small fast growth company, we bring somebody in, they start performing, and what happens is, if somebody's performing, we stop giving them attention, we stop checking in as much, we stop updating what their outcomes are. We stop updating what they're accountable for, we don't shift their scoreboards.
In fact, when somebody starts performing, our entrepreneurial minds say, "Well, we don't need to put attention there." We can save time, effort and energy by not putting energy or attention there, and putting in somewhere else. This is why so often top performers, people who are good in an organization, are good for a while, and then start to fall off. Because as your organization grows, inherently, so has their position, so has their outcome, so has their accountability, and their scoreboards have shifted.
As your organization grows, things will get less and less clear for each individual, and as your organization grows, it's going to be less clear what they should be doing. Unless you are consistently and constantly updating their outcomes, updating their accountability and shifting scoreboards so that they can see their success, here's what will happen. Somebody who was producing extraordinarily well at the beginning, will start to fall off. Because if your team member has ambiguity, any type of question around what they should be doing, and what the outcome is, if they can't clearly explain it the same way that you would explain it, then you know there's an issue. That's part of the reason why they're not performing.
If your team member doesn't know exactly what they're accountable for, and what they're responsible for, if they explain it to you, and it's exactly what you think they were doing, then you're on the same page. But chances are, if they've been with you for a few months, they're responsibilities has fallen off, it's because you haven't checked in on that in a while, you haven't put attention on it in a while. You haven't seen have their responsibilities shifted? Do we need to make a change?
The big one is, if your team member doesn't have a current scoreboard that shows them whether they're successful or not, if they don't have a current scoreboard that shows them with perspective that their efforts are paying off, they will be rutterless. It's like when you don't have clear outcome, clear accountability, and a scoreboard, it's hard to know how to move forward. As a result, a good team member will do everything they can, they'll try, they'll work at it, but as a CEO, you're gonna see their efforts as having fallen off.
You're gonna see their productivity as having gone down. You're going to see the contribution they were making to your business as being less, and here's how you fix it. You do what we've done with Hailey, in a fast growth company, you have to consistently and constantly put systems and process in place, so that you are updating the outcomes for each person. Now for us this happens within our cadence. We have a clear planning and communications cadence, built around a one year strategic plan, where everyone on the team knows what they're doing, and each month we renew it. So on a monthly basis, we have built-in renewals of outcomes, then you have to be consistently updating accountability.
Every person in my organization right now is in some state of transition, and that's not, you know, that's not an underestimation. In fact, the only person who might not be in transition is our designer Corina, but she's taking on a whole bunch more responsibilities, so she's in transition too. Justin who's in customer service is moving into an IT position, Melanie was hired as a coaching assistant a while ago, then she became our director of customer experience, she's helping us build out all of our systems. Literally every person in my business is in a state of transition.
So we are constantly documenting that transition, and constantly documenting what each person's doing. In fact, we recently hired two coaches, then within weeks, one of the coaches started helping us with curriculum design, and the other coach, [inaudible] now helping us with curriculum design, and Judita is helping us with sales. So, we are constantly looking for what talent do we have? What unique abilities do we have? What specializations do we have that we can use? But, here's what I don't wanna ever have happen. I don't wanna have someone who I'm in love with their results, who's producing for our team, who's doing incredibly well, over time falls off, because we aren't clear.
So as the leader of your organization, here's the responsibility to every member of your team. You have to ensure they have three things, one, that clear outcome, that clarity that will help them drive forward. Two, you wanna make sure that they have clear accountability, they know exactly what they're accountable for, what they're responsibilities are, what other people around them are doing. Then three, what is that scoreboard that indicates success? What is that scoreboard, that measurement, the milestones, the check boxes, the check lists, the process document, the statistics that they're keeping? What is it that is giving them perspective as to whether they're successful?
Because here's my belief about human beings, is that every single one wants to be successful. Deep down, every person wants to be successful. Some have patterns in their lives that keep them from being successful, others just need some help to be able to be successful, others don't have the right tools, the right people, the right processes in their lives. But I believe that every one of us deep down wants to be successful, and given the opportunity, we will rise to the occasion. When the right structure is there, when the right elements of success are there, we will rise to the occasion, and become successful.
So for you to provide that situation for your team, you have to have those three things. Clear outcome, clear accountability, and clear measurement, a scoreboard that shows success, and every member of your team will be in momentum, and you will get away from this phenomena of having people perform well, and then fall off. Now there's always the possibility that something's happened in someone's personal life, or there's a challenge, or there's an issue, or something shifted for them, or they're no longer interested, or they don't wanna be in the position anymore. Those are all things you can discover by talking to the person.
But, if you wanna understand your role in somebody falling off, if you wanna understand your responsibility as a CEO, as a leader, and someone becoming less productive, look at those three things, and ask yourself, do they have clear outcome that's easy to understand and impossible to misunderstand? Clear accountability so they know what they're responsible for, and what the people around them are responsible for, and a clear scoreboard that gives them perspective? If any one of those is a no, or a maybe, and it's not a heck yeah, that is probably your issue, correct it, and you'll see the person start to succeed again, and contribute to the organization like you want them to.
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