One of the things I remember hearing quite often is that “It’s not personal, it’s business.”
As I’ve grown as a business-owner, I see now, that, actually, “It’s not business, it’s personal.” seems much more accurate.
Initially, when you first begin your business, you are focused mostly on what you can do with your own two hands– how you do marketing, how you do sales, how you deliver on the promise of what you sold. Many business owners never move past this level of business, and that’s completely fine.
However, after a time, for some business-owners, they realize that they can get more done- and make more money- if they start to let go of some of their work, and instead, hire help. At first, this may start with hiring a few administrative type helpers. Then it may move into hiring an accountant, marketing manager, operations manager, and so on. After a while, a once solo-business may have now become a team business of 5-10-15- or even more people.
And, at that point, when the business revenues grow, and the team continues to grow too, that’s when, in my experience, business shifts into personal.
When I work with business owners who are building teams and growing into the $300-$500k revenue range, I see that, more than anything, the owner’s time goes into management of his/her team and dealing with the personalities of the chosen team members.
This is a big investment for the business owner, in time, dollars, and hopes and dreams for the future.
So how long should you keep an team member who keeps making mistakes? How many chances should you give?
This is an important question- and, unfortunately, one with no one right answer.
Here are some of the things to consider if you find yourself (when you find yourself?) in this situation:
1) Consider the magnitude of the errors. Are they recoverable? Are they something that can be double-checked or more readily prevented next time?
2) Consider the frequency of the errors. Do they happen over and over? Are you feeling very stressed and worried about them and fearing when they happen again?
3) Consider the stance of the team member. Did they apologize? Did they try to fix it? What assurances did they give you about preventing this in the future?
4) Consider how you feel. What is your intuition saying? Are you feeling this is a workable case? Or is your feeling to let this person go?
The last one is very important, as most entrepreneurs I know actually do have good intuition- they know when something is working, and they know when it’s not. What gets in the way of them seeing and deciding clearly is, often, a sense of loyalty and investment- they don’t want to let go of someone they’ve selected and trained, nor do they want to act too rashly or harshly, nor do they want to be disloyal to someone who may have contributed in very significant ways up until now.
All of these are important considerations, but the thing is this- if someone has broken your trust once, perhaps that is recoverable. But if they continue to break it again and again- no matter if they mean to or not- can your business really afford these errors? What toll is this taking on you and your energy as the business owner?
Most of the time, we err on the side of giving too many chances. We focus more on what we’ll lose by letting this person go than on what we’ll gain.
Similar to the stock market, this would be the process of throwing good money after bad.
When you are no longer feeling supported and well cared for by those you work with, or who work for you, it’s time to re-evaluate the working relationship with a plan to make some changes.
After a certain point, it’s no longer just business. It truly is personal.