Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Firing Your Own Mike Brown

"I could never have imagined that firing 67 people on national television would actually make me more popular, especially with the younger generation." --- Donald Trump

Los Angeles Lakers Basketball Coach Mike Brown was fired last week. The grounds for termination: 1-4 record. That's right, the team he coaches lost four basketball games. Doesn't seem like grounds for termination so early in the season and if it were not for a signed contract, he might have an unfair termination case. The issue is not whether he is good at his job, but whether he can rack up an impressive season for the Lakers franchise. This is the case for most coaches in the professional world of sports. Though you might be a good coach, you are only as good as your current season.

What about your coach? (translated manager, supervisor, team leader, COO, CFO, or president). What has he or she produced for the company lately? Are they providing what was agreed upon in relation to profits, productivity, increased customer base? Is there a win/loss record of 1-4? Do you need to fire them? Can you fire them?

Most business leaders are facing these questions on a regular basis. Though they might not verbalize them or see them in any particular sequence, they are always there, waiting for answers. How do we analyze these questions to put them in perspective for our overall mission? Here are four tips to use for determining if we need to replace our "coaches":

1.) Use bench marks. Regardless of whether you have a signed contract with your manager or other leader, agreed upon bench marks are extremely helpful in determining the performance of your leader. If you and the leader know what those bench marks are, there is no confusion on what is expected.

2.) Use regular meetings. Communication, that nasty word that is always blamed for most business problems, is the best tool to use with your leaders. Two-way communication cuts off problems before they arise. Issues of performance are addressed and reasons for mistakes are communicated and resolved before more damage can occur.

3.) Call time out. When serious problems seemingly appear out of nowhere, it is usually because you haven't made the time or taken the time to pay closer attention or the information you've been given hasn't been all that accurate. This is the time to halt the presses, call time out, take a break and look around. Identify the problem or issue, uncover why it happened, then take action. The action may need to be termination, but if you've stayed the course with tips #1 and #2, you probably won't have to resort to firing.

4.) Determine needs. Be on the constant lookout for helpful information, training aids, classes, seminars, needed technological equipment, anything that can help your leaders to do a better job. Ask them to help you help them. If they lack training in an area or feel uncomfortable performing a particular task (this should have come out during multiple interviews, but too late now), provide the necessary skill training to get them up to a better level. Too often I see business leaders work against their own leaders as if it were a competition. This is a business you are trying to improve, perfect, and make productive and profitable. Take these four tips to heart and know that your leaders are worthy of second chances, and of salvaging for the next season.

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