(Time to read this Blog is about 4 1/2 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My biz quote of the week:
    “The beginning of wisdom is the recognition of reality!’  
    …Donald Cooper
  2. Reality or denial?  Are you living in reality or denial in your business?  Are you being honest with yourself about what needs improving or fixing?  Is there agreement about that among you key players, or is everyone singing from a different ‘hymn sheet’?
    To answer these important questions, click here to download my Biz Tool #A-1, The Business Key Challenge Audit Sheet.’  It will take just 4 minutes to complete. 
  1. The world’s top 10 cities to live in. According to a survey by Travel & Leisure magazine,  6 of the top 10 cities to live in are in Australia and New Zealand.  None are in North America.

The top 10 cities (listed from top to bottom) are:

  • #1: Auckland, New Zealand,
  • Osaka, Japan*,
  • Adelaide, Australia,
  • Wellington, New Zealand,
  • Tokyo, Japan,
  • Perth, Australia,
  • Zurich, Switzerland*,
  • Geneva, Switzerland*,
  • Melbourne, Australia,
  • Brisbane, Australia.

Note:  * Also on the list of the world’s most expensive cities to live in.  

Now, to this week’s important topic:

How many of your staff have ‘quit’, but keep showing up?  Whose fault is it…and what are you doing about it?

Whether your business is large or small, not having the right people in every position carries a huge cost in lost business, inefficiency, frustration and missed opportunity!  A recent survey of thousands of North American employees shows that 25% of those questioned admitted that the only reason they show up at work is for their paycheck.  They have absolutely no interest in their job, the customers, the rest of the team or the bottom line.

We’ve all heard the old expression that “one bad apple can spoil the bunch”.  Well, how about 25% ‘bad apples’?  What are they doing to your business?  They’re dragging you down and they need to be rescued, or invited to move on.  Remember, it’s not the people who quit and leave who hurt you …it’s the ones who quit and stay.

The first question here is how many of those people are just deadbeats and how many of them are working in businesses that have a negative culture or a toxic boss that would destroy anyone’s soul?  These are the businesses that are physically, emotionally or financially unhealthy places to be.  Businesses where the good people leave and only the deadbeats are left.  So, be honest…is there anything about your business that makes it a deadbeat ‘magnet’ instead of a ‘talent magnet’?  Have you, for whatever reason, created an unhealthy business environment in which only people who don’t care can survive?

A second possibility is that in a tight labour market you’ve hired people who have no chance of success.  You’ve settled for second or third best …and it’s killing you.  So, you give up and tell yourself that, “You just can’t find good people anymore!”  But the truth is that, even in a tight labour market, the best people have to work for somebody…it’s just that you have to deserve them.

Is your business such a great place to work that the best people in your industry regularly come to you, resume in hand, looking for career opportunities?  If not, why not?  Where are they working now…and why?


2 simple steps to becoming an employer of choice for top performers:

Rather than wasting your energy complaining that you can’t find good people anymore, take two pieces of paper and 40 minutes of your time to sit down with some of the best minds and hearts in your business and honestly answer these two simple questions…

  1. On Page #1 answer this question. “What kind of business in our industry, in our market, do the best people want to work for? Describe in point form how it would recruit, hire, train, pay, reward, thank, celebrate, coach, mentor, communicate with, listen to, empower, celebrate, reward and grow its people?  What would its benefits look like, hours of employment, the sense of fairness and basic respect for both staff and customers?  What would it’s ‘higher purpose be that truly engages good people?  All businesses sell stuff…great businesses are on a mission to improve the human condition in some significant way.  What is your ‘significant purpose’?
  2. On Page #2 answer this question.“What must we do to become the kind of business that we just described on Page #1?”   What must we fix, create, change or stop doing?  Then, commit to becoming the best business to work for in your industry, in your area.  You can’t be a world-class business without being a world-class employer.


Are your current hiring and onboarding practices attracting the right people and getting them off to a good start?

A third possibility is that your current hiring process is not effectively screening out deadbeats or poor performers. Are you looking for the right people?  Do you have a clear understanding of the type of people you need in every part of your business to deliver your customer promise, achieve your profit commitments, create a safe, welcoming and committed culture and to get your business to where it needs to be in 3 to 5 years?  Are you looking for talent…or just looking for ‘bodies’?  Do you have the guts to hire people who know a lot more about their area of specialty than you do, or do you always need to be the smartest person in the room?  Your job is not to be the smartest person in the rom.  Your job is to attract the smartest people to the room and then to focus, challenge and empower them to be extraordinary!

Do you know where to look for these people?  Then, do you have an interview process that works?  Every business today should have a powerful and honest ‘recruitment video’ that shows what the company does, how it does it wonderfully, why it matters, what its values, vision and culture are and the opportunities it offers.  The real battle in business today is the battle for talent.  An effective ‘recruitment video’ is a powerful tool in winning that battle.

Then, do you hire after just one interview?  Hiring someone after one interview is like asking someone to marry you on the first date.  You don’t know them well enough yet.  Do you have some of your best people re-interview promising candidates?  Do you test candidates in any way?  Do you have clear standards of performance, appearance and behavior that you have job prospects commit to before you hire them?   Do you always check references, asking specific questions to get specific answers?

Do you get your new team members off to the right start? 

  1. Do you have a ‘Welcome To Our Team’package that each new employee receives as soon as they ‘sign on’.  This package should include your company history, company values and purpose, awards won, struggles you’ve overcome, differences you’ve made in people’s lives, the community or the planet?  Give them a reason to be engaged and proud to work with you from day one.
    The ‘Welcome To Our Team’ package should also include a simple description of your Benefits Package, including where to go for more information and a summary of your staff policies and rules, including an explanation as to why you have them.
    Whatever their position, I believe their ‘Welcome To Our Team’ package should also include at least 100 good quality business cards with their name and title or job.  Business cards are not expensive and are a great perk that honours the new team member.  They’ll be delighted and proud to hand them out to their family and friends. 
  2. Do you send them a welcoming email or text 5 days before they start work telling them how excited you are to have them on your team?
  3. Do you send out a bulletin to all existing staff who will work with the new employee, advising them of the new arrival, their name, when they’ll arrive, the function they’ll perform, to whom they’ll report, a little about them and a request that everyone warmly welcome the ‘newbie’.
  4. Is their workplace ready for them when they arrive, or do they feel awkward because you’re unprepared for them? Do they get some fun ‘swag’ on the 1st day like a mug with their name and the company logo on it, or an ‘official’ company cap or sweat shirt?
  5. Do they get a tour of the business or location so they understand the scope of the company, see the bigger picture and better understand how their job is important in the overall scheme of things?
  6. Do you partner each new employee with an experienced staff member who will guide them, encourage them, show them around, answer questions and look out for them?

Do you clearly communicate expectations re job performance, integrity and the treatment of others?  Have you created an environment that acknowledges, rewards and celebrates individual and team performance?   Are employees fairly and well compensated for their achievements and responsibilities, regardless of gender?  How about a simple, “Thank you” every day…or are you just too busy for that? 

Do you continually train, develop and encourage your staff to be better at what they do, or to take on new responsibilities?  You can’t grow your business without growing your people…and without growing yourself.

Do your managers sit down with each employee every 6 months to discuss what they’d like out of their career and their life…and how the company can help them achieve that?  You want their help in achieving what the company wants.  Wouldn’t it be fair to help them achieve what they want?  

Do you have ‘Idea Fests’ every 4 months or so where each employee must bring at least one idea to help improve the business in some way…and how to make it happen?  Our employees know stuff and they hate it when we don’t ask.  When we don’t ask, they believe that we don’t care what they think.  And, if we don’t care, why should they?

After everyone has shared their idea, let them vote on whose idea was best and give the winner $100, or a dinner coupon from a great local restaurant.  The dinner coupon allows them to be a hero to their spouse or special friend …and that’s a bonus.

Finally, do you send each employee an ‘anniversary card’ on the anniversary of their employment with you?  “Thank you” for another year of sharing the passion, commitment and values of our business!   Then, add a personal note about their contribution to the success and culture of the business.  Most employees remember the date they started work with you…and they hate it when you don’t.    

Dealing with non-performance:

Even if you do all the cool stuff described above, you’ll still have some team members who just don’t perform.  They’re dragging you down and you need to deal with them.  Failure to deal with non-performance is one of the biggest problems in many businesses today.  Here are six steps that will be helpful…

  1. Make sure that non-performers are clear about what’s expected of them.
  2. Determine if they’re in the right job for them. Often, just by getting problem staff in a job that’s better suited to their skills or personality, they become stars.
  3. Make sure that they have the skills, information, ‘tools’, resources and empowerment to do the job they’ve been given.
  4. Make sure that some personal challenge in their life is not causing them to be temporarily ‘off their game’. How can you support them and help them with this?  If the challenge they face has to do with something like gambling or drug addiction, they’re probably not rescuable.  Life is not a Disney movie.
  5. Agree on and document a specific date by when they will be performing as required. Monitor their performance, then follow up on the agreed date.  If they aren’t performing as required at that point, it’s probably time to invite them to make an alternate career decision. 
  6. Carefully follow the law and document your conversations about performance problems. If it gets sticky at the end, the person with the best paperwork wins.  Ideally, you’ll discuss lack of performance in such a way that the non-performing employee gets the message and quits.  If they quit, they leave with their dignity and no more of your money.  If you fire them, they leave with less dignity…but a lot more of your money.  Plan A is better!

Who’s not performing in your business?  Who’s driving away customers, costing you money, or upsetting the team?  Who can be rescued…and who needs to be dealt with?  Make a list of non-performers, create an action plan for each and get on with it. 

Action steps:

So, how many of your employees have ‘quit’, but keep showing up and hope you won’t notice?  Will you embrace the two simple steps described above to become the business that the best people in your industry, in your market, want to work for? 

Then will you refine your recruitment and onboarding processes to screen-out the duds, select high-potential employees and get them off to the right start? 

And, finally, will you follow the six steps above to deal with non-performance?  

I can’t think of anything more important for you to do in your business this week!


That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 

Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

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