The question posed to a lawyer friend was a simple one: should we re-hire a former team member who was honest, hardworking and that everyone (including our clients) loved? The response was not what I expected. “You are running a business. Who cares whether you like or dislike the former team member. What do the facts tell you?”
As business owners, we can’t make decisions based upon our feelings. We have to look at the facts and we have to demand excellence and insist on nothing less. Is the team member productive and getting the job done or are they making repeated mistakes?
My answer became clear: the former team member could not be rehired. It was more than an occasional mistake. As the business owner, I had given the former team member too much slack and it was hurting the morale of other team members. The behind-the-scenes comments were hard to ignore, “Why is John so willing to ignore these mistakes?” Truth is, because I genuinely cared for and liked the team member.
Feelings Versus Facts
Leadership guru, Bill Biggs, puts it simply: “Love your employees and demand excellence.” You have to insist on both. If you do not insist upon excellence from your team members, morale will fall and mediocrity will become acceptable. You can’t let this happen.
When mistakes are made, you have to confront them. You have to say to the team member, “It’s time we discuss what happened.” Of course, it’s easier to say nothing, but over time, the mistakes will continue and you will risk losing the trust of your “A” players. And in a world class law firm, you can’t take that chance.
This is what John Morgan, owner of Morgan & Morgan, the largest plaintiff’s firm in America, calls “Doing the Lions Shit”. It’s easier to avoid confrontation and the difficult conversation with your team members, but this is precisely the “Lion’s Shit” that you have to do. And if you don’t do this, your firm will be stuck in an endless cycle of mediocrity.
Thank you, Chris Nicolaysen, Esq. of the Springs Law Group in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for this invaluable advice.