Cull the herd early and often.

6 04 2015

“You don’t see sick animals in the wild.  You don’t see lame animals in the wild, and it’s all because of the predator:  the lion, the tiger, the leopard, all the cats.” ~Tippi Hedrin

In the business world, you rarely see “sick companies” stick around for too long.  This is the reason that mergers and take-overs happen.  One company may be close to running out of cash, running out of ideas (but have cash), or running out of vision/leadership.  When this happens, another company is likely to come along and acquire the weak company.  Often, the infusion of cash, ideas, or leadership is all it takes to make the new company (both sides) become healthy and productive.  I’ve been through 7 corporate mergers in my career, and each time, after the first year, where there is always a step back due to the diversionary nature of mergers (not to mention culture integration), the second year is where the new entity starts to hit on all cylinders.

To drop down the scale of this from companies to departments, you will sometimes have “lame” employees on your team.  Our job as leaders is to try to manage them up, but sometimes, they don’t want your help, or can’t do the job.  When that’s the case, please be sure to “cull the herd” as quickly as you can, within the rules outlined by HR.  It’s not helpful to either you or the team to “give them a break” if there’s no hope.  Document, document, document, and manage them out expeditiously.  Don’t pass on your weakest members to someone else to deal with.  Bad news doesn’t get better with age, and when you finally do manage them out, you’ll have an opportunity to hire the right fit as a replacement, and THEY will have the opportunity to find a better fit for their skill set, in the form of a new company/industry.

Speaking of Leopard…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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