The Challenging Employee Conversation

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The most common mistakes startups make are pricing their product/service too low and not firing employees that don’t fit fast enough. I want to talk a bit about that second example: employees that don’t fit. The pattern that I’ve seen emerge over the past 10 years is when an employee with challenges has been brought up in a management meeting, the issues addressed, and then something else repeatedly comes up, it isn’t going to work out.

We do a weekly tactical as part of our Rockefeller Habits rhythm. The goal is to do a very brief KPI review, priorities for the week, and any immediate agenda items. My experience has been that if a challenging employee has come up in conversation over and over again at these meetings then we as the leadership team are doing a poor job of setting expectations and building a great corporate culture. Employees want to know where they stand and to receive honest feedback, in addition to written warnings in many cases, as that is more desirable than tip toeing around issues and not letting on to the severity of the problem.

My recommendation is to not sugar coat issues with employee challenges and know that one of the most common startup mistakes is not letting go of bad fits fast enough. It isn’t that the employee isn’t a good person, it’s that they aren’t a good fit for your startup and there are better places for them to shine.

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