Ep #32: Why Founders and CEO’s MUST Be Able to Fire Anyone

 In Podcast

If you’re a CEO, you’ve got to get good at being able to fire anyone. You don’t have to love it. It’s a superpower, and once you have it, you won’t feel bound by someone’s poor performance again.

What you’ll find in this episode:

  1. There should always be an evaluative measure, that’s outside your opinion of someone, that helps you know if this person is contributing so that the business is benefiting.
  2. Once you get good at being able to fire anyone, you’re never intimidated by what people do or don’t do in your business. You’re never held hostage.
  3. Your business is only as good as your poorest performer.
  4. Once your values are dialed, this becomes an objective part of what you do. Values are not subjective.

Featured on the Show and Other Notes:

  • Brooke Castillo and I have put together a curriculum and a video course called Entrepreneurial Management. It’s 26 modules.
  • The Founder’s Lab launches October 31st and is a complement to Entrepreneurial Management. The Founder’s Lab is that dedicated space where I’ll coach you through the Entrepreneurial Management program. I’m currently scheduling consultations. Go here to book an appointment with me.
  • Please write a review of my podcast. Go to iTunes’ main page and give it a 5 star if you feel it is worthy and write a review. Do a screen shot and go to Instagram and put that on your story or feed and tag me @KrisPlachyCoach. I will then send you a list of all of my most favorite books that I’ve read over the years.
  • Reach out to me by emailing me at support@leadershipcoachllc.com.
  • If you haven’t joined my email subscribers list, you can do that here.


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Podcast Transcript

Hey everyone. I’m Kris Plachy and this is How to Lead for Female Entrepreneurs and Founders, because the best way to grow a business is to grow the person who’s running it. Let’s go ahead and get started.

All right. Welcome, welcome to this amazing episode. Oh my gosh, you guys, I’m so excited. I just got back from Hawaii. It was amazing. When are you coming? Why weren’t you there? I do a retreat in Hawaii every year, and myself and a select group of VIP clients and I meet on the shore and we do some really powerful work. And I have to say that it just is such… every year I do this, and every year I just am always so stimulated and inspired by what we come up with collectively as a group. And every group is different, which is so fun. This year, right? Always really different backgrounds. But women who have also some shared intention in the world. Really wanting to work hard, create amazing things, provide exceptional service, do the things that they want to do in the world.

So I just am incredibly invigorated and just again so humbled that I get to work with these women. I mean all of you who are listening, hello to the podcast that I may never meet and some of you who I hope will someday be in my founders lab where I can see you and talk to you and help you and listen to you. Which makes me want to tell you my next big and exciting announcement, which is that I’m launching my founders lab on October 31st of this year.

So what is the founders lab? I think I’ve been sharing with you over the last several months that I’ve been launching a group concept to help women who run their own businesses, who are generating seven figures and more in their revenue deal with how to manage a business and how to manage people within a business and do all of the things that I know that are very hard and not the things you typically signed up for.

And so I’ve been really thinking about, what are we doing here? And I thought through as I was talking with my coach and my best girlfriend, Brooke Castillo, because she and I just put together a curriculum and a program and a video course that is off the charts amazing. Like you guys, I can’t even stand how excited I am about it. It’s called Entrepreneurial Management. It’s 26 modules. You’re welcome. It’s ridiculous. It’s so much amazing stuff.

So she and I put this together as a compliment or a summary or a gift, I think Brooke would tell you because of the hard work that went into it, of all of the things that we both collectively learned while I was coaching her and talking to her and she was talking to me, sometimes daily, sometimes three times a day, about all of the things that she was doing in her business over the last five years and she’s gone from a six figure business to now a $25 million business.

That was a lot of work. A lot of management work that I really do understand is so unsexy that all of you just either are ignoring it or telling yourself you’re terrible at it or hoping it will just go away, or hoping you could hire somebody to do it, or hoping you’ll just be rich and you can sell your company. I don’t know.

Here’ what I know. None of that’s true. You’ve got to do the work. So we have this incredible course for you that you absolutely need to get involved in and get your hands on because I know it’s just going to change everything for you. So to compliment the rollout of Entrepreneurial Management, I am offering the founders lab. And so what I want you to do is think about this founders lab as, because I know how busy you are. I know that you’re off the charts busy and so even though you have the best intentions about what you want to do in your business, you are also pulled in a lot of different directions.

So the founders lab is your dedicated lab. You go to school and you learn the theory, which is to me what the Entrepreneurial Management course is. It’s the class, it’s the theory, it’s the concepts. And then you’ve got to go to the lab and you have to practice and you have to apply and you have to do and you have to have the teacher give you the feedback and tell you, this was amazing, try this again, not so much this time, let’s do that over. Right? So the founders lab is that dedicated space where I’m going to be coaching you through the Entrepreneurial Management program plus everything else I have to offer you, which you guys, I’m so proud of what we’re putting together for you.

So there’s the coaching, there’s the teaching. When you work with me as a client in the founders lab, you also get invited to what I call a Flip Chart Workshop, which is something I do every month, which is a unique area that I focus on specifically for my female entrepreneur clients. Plus I’m creating a private podcast for my clients. Come on, doesn’t that make you excited? I’m so proud of it.

So again, that’s going to launch on October 31st so anyone who joins me in my founders lab program is going to have access to the Entrepreneurial Management program. So you don’t even have to get that separately. It’s all part of it. So if you’ve been thinking about, “I need coaching, I need help. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being worn out by my business. I know this could be better, but I don’t know how.” You have to join me you guys, please.

Let’s do this. Schedule time to meet with me. I am currently still meeting with every single client one-on-one before we decide if you’re the right fit for this program. So I want you to book an appointment with me. You and I are going to meet for 20 minutes and we’re going to talk. So that appointment, you can go to krisplachy.com/appointment, that’s K-R-I-S-P like Peter, L-A-C-H-Y.com forward slash appointment. And let’s get on my calendar so we can see if you’re ready to get going. This October 31st launch will be very limited, so I’d love for you to be in it.

Okay, so now, drum roll please. Let’s talk about the content for today, which is why if you are an entrepreneur and you have a business, and you have employees, you have to be able to fire people.

Now, look, this is not my favorite topic and I do find it fascinating that I do talk about it a lot because when I think about my story and my history with firing people, I have had the worst experiences, which is of course why I love to be able to be helpful because I want to help you avoid as much of it as I have. I have cried. I have literally, at one point, I had to do huge layoff. I had to fire a bunch of people. I got so sick, I couldn’t come to work. I was totally ill. I’ve had to fire really good people. I’ve had to fire people that I would never even want to like be in the same room alone with. I have been through this enough to know that you have to go through this process and you have to be good at it if you’re going to run a business.

Not being able to fire people to me is such a weakness in a CEO. It indicates to me that you can’t have an edge and you have to have an edge. You have to have a place where you know this is not good for my business. And I think it’s important that you’re always evaluating who you have in your business because your business is growing, it’s changing if you’re doing it right. And there should always be an evaluative measure that’s outside of your opinion of someone or the relationship you have with someone that helps you know if this person is contributing to the role so that the business is benefiting.

This is not about, is this a good person or not? Do we like them? I like most people. I don’t not like people but my business is counting on me to protect it and to help it grow. I can’t do that if I have people in the business who aren’t performing.

So it’s very easy to ignore the skill of firing people because it’s so incredibly uncomfortable. And so that’s where a lot of the clients that start working with me, it’s kind of sometimes, honestly, a lot of what we first talk about is, “Oh my gosh, I have to figure out what to do with these four people, this one person.” And it’s been something that you’ve been avoiding because it is such an incredibly uncomfortable part of what you have to do. But what I love about, once you get really good at firing, which is equally true for once you get really good at hiring, is then you’re never intimidated by what people do or don’t do in your business. You’re never ever felt like held hostage.

I have a lot of my clients who tell me that. I feel hostage to this person because of either their emotional reaction or their defensiveness or maybe it’s that you feel like they know everything in your business or they know everything about you and you feel like you can’t walk them out of your company. You feel very bound to them, which is such a limiting factor. And I know there’s a quote out there somewhere, but I do really believe it’s true that your business is only as good as your poorest performer.

So if you have a poor performer in your business, that’s the bar. And I know in our minds we don’t think that way because we think, well no, no, no, everybody else is so great. It’s just this one person who’s not pulling their weight or not meeting their goals or missing deadlines or whatever he or she is doing. But that’s as good as you get, right there. Because that person’s setting the expectation because as long as we tolerate it, then it’s what everybody else thinks is tolerable.

And it does take people’s foot off the gas a little bit. And it leaves you to then have to defend why someone in one seat doesn’t have to work as hard, doesn’t have to meet the same expectations as someone in another seat.

And this comes back to why I talk so frequently about your values, which is also something that we’ll be doing in the lab. You have to get this clear because once your values are dialed, this becomes an objective part of what you do. Values are not subjective. And I know I’ve said this before, I think a lot of people think that, “Oh yeah, doing your values is like some corporate exercise.” It’s not. Your values have to be really important. They have to mean something. If they mean something, you would never tolerate somebody in your business who doesn’t align with them.

And I just said to a client today, if you are managing people really well, here’s what should happen. The people who align to your values should be thrilled to come to work. They should love it. They should feel so recognized and rewarded and proud because you are holding them accountable. You’re holding other people accountable. It feels amazing. If people who don’t align to your values aren’t happy, I actually think you’re doing it right, because they’re not aligned. So that means you’re holding them accountable to stuff they don’t want to do or they can’t do.

So getting your values really clear makes this also really easily. But when you’re a CEO and you can’t fire people, it is a weakness and it is visible. I remember years ago working with a client and they had a very high level C suite person who absolutely would not fire people. In fact, this person found every excuse that they could to get other people to fire people. So much so that it was like, everybody knew it. And the only reason why this was an ongoing issue is because this particular person just never developed the skill. And so every time someone needed to be fired, this person just couldn’t do it because they didn’t have skill.

So learning how to fire people is a skill. It’s not a soft skill. Can we also have that conversation? I’m so tired of hearing about how leadership in managing people is a soft skill. I don’t know. If you’ve ever had to learn how to fire people or have a difficult conversation, I think I would get your support in agreeing with me that that not a soft skill. That’s a damn hard skill. That is not easy. It’s the toughest work of managing people is this kind of communication. It’s holding people accountable. It’s having and giving feedback. It’s telling people they can’t work for you anymore if they’re not meeting the goal. It’s your job. You get good at it, so will everybody else. If other people on your team were better at it than you, that’s not good for you. You’ve got to be good at it.

Doesn’t mean you have to do it all the time. I don’t think we should be firing people left and right. I think we should be really thoughtful. But I want to give this to you as sort of like a… I’m hoping you feel empowered. It’s normal for it to be awful. It’s normal for you to not ever want to have to. It’s normal for you to hate it every time you have to do it. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get good at it.

There are certain things that when you’ve made the decision to run a business, this is one of those edges you have to develop. You can add style, you could have processes and practices that support you, which is exactly what I teach. You need to follow them. I’ve talked to a couple of clients just in the last week who have to make decisions to fire people. One of the questions I always ask is, do you have an employment attorney on retainer? Should always ask before you fire people, am I doing this right? So it’s not a willy nilly thing.

I feel so much for my clients. I see this as a stepping stone or a roadblock. I think is a better way to say that. I see this as a roadblock because I watch a lot of my clients who know they have someone in the business who isn’t really right for the business and they lose sleep and they argue in their brain with this person and then resentment gets developed and all these things happen. And we’re sitting here thinking we’re not being kind to someone by firing them. But I actually think it’s terribly unkind to not be giving people feedback and to be honest with them. Because maybe you’re being like smiley face to them in person, but then in your brain at night after you’ve had a glass of wine, you’re like tearing them to shreds because you’re so frustrated that you’re not getting the results that you need.

So then what I see is instead of just learning how to fire people, I watch people say, “Well, maybe this management thing isn’t for me. I need to get out of managing people. I need to quit. I need to get rid of my business.” And I watch incredibly capable, successful women give up because this skill is hard and they don’t want to learn and I don’t mean that with negative intention, it’s just hard. So let’s just set the table and say, “Nope, it is hard.”

It’s a hard thing to learn. It’s a hard thing to do. It’s a thing that I don’t ever enjoy. It’s not something I go skipping out of after I’ve terminated someone, but I accept it just like I accept budgeting and I accept forecasting and I accept taxes as part of running a business. And so if that’s the case, then what do I have to learn to get good at it? And one of my goals for you, when you work with me as a client, is for you to become exceptional at this. So that you can then model it and teach it to your business.

You get this clean, your business is so much more fast. It doesn’t drag people. It’s more efficient. You make more money. You don’t waste money. And you get good at it so you also minimize impact. I’m always thinking about how do you mitigate risk when you have to terminate someone? You have to be very careful about how you fire people. Some States more than others, but right here in the U.S. like, dude, you got to be really thoughtful. And that means you have to pay attention, you have to have a practice and you got to be consistent. Less is more.

So it’s kind of like, I know people don’t like to talk about icky parts that happen like in a doctor’s office or like potential things that could happen if you get sick or bad things that happen in marriages. Nobody wants to talk about that part. I really do get it. I realize this is not a popular topic, but it’s an essential one. And if you’re sitting here, as you’re walking, or driving, or training, or laying on the beach, whatever you’re doing listening to this, and you’re having the sort of that pang of like, “No, I’m really not good at this. I actually don’t think I’ve ever fired anybody.” Then I want you to listen to me. I can help you learn it. There are ways to learn how to fire people so that you can be competent and more confident too. Because I watch how a lot of people are not confident in the process that they have, and then they end up making mistakes that just impact the business. And that’s of course, always something I want to make sure you’re factoring.

So if you’re the CEO, you’ve got to get good at this. Doesn’t mean you have to love it, but we have to agree, it’s a superpower. And once you have it, you don’t ever feel bound by someone’s poor performance again.

So thank you for listening. I’m so glad you were here today. Are you going to work with me? Are you going to join the founders lab? I hope so. I’ll talk to you next time.

Hey, don’t miss a thing. Make sure you join my community at krisplachy.com/connect. Once you join, you’ll get all the information on exclusive and private experiences that I’m offering to my clients. I can’t wait to see you there.

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