Now, I used to go fishing when I lived in upstate New York. It was freshwater fishing, so a lot of streams and lakes. I learned this while fishing in the Hudson River years ago. If you are old enough you will remember that several companies released chemicals way north in the Hudson River and it polluted the environment and wildlife. We used to have a saying, "Never eat the three eyed fish you catch in the Hudson - throw it back." Now, I would fish on the current and there where a lot of times that a dead fish would just go floating by. What does all this have to do with leadership? Everything. Because while your business or organization is riding your momentum there are going to be some employees that are moving with you, but they are not growing with you!
I have had this leadership expression I have said for decades, I am sure it's not original, but here it is: If you can't grow with us, you won't be able to go with us. A dead fish is only going to distract you from catching living fish. Dead leaders will keep you from developing living leaders. Don't allow the people in your church, business, or organization to feel like they can just float along. Your job as a leader is to motivate people to your mission. If people can't be motivated, they should be terminated. I'm not talking Arnold Swarzenagger terminated, but just re-assigned.
As your organization starts to get traction you will attract a lot of dead fish who will want a resume sticker. They want to use your brand to elevate their name. Be cautious in hiring.
I heard this quote years ago: "The more time you spend in selection, the less time you will spend with a staff infection." Ooooo, lets stop here for a minute. We gotta drill down. So many leaders are struggling to discover why there business or non-profit is not taking off - they got the right vision, they are the right leader. The problem is they have a staff infection. They allowed someone on their time to infect the rest of the staff with laziness & lethargy. The longer you let that person stay on your team the more people will get infected by their behavior and attitude.
I have a simple policy in hiring: Hire slowly. Fire quickly. Take time in the hiring process. Hire a team to vet all future employees. Build a relationship. Check their resume. Call their references. Let me say it this way: Just because someone worked for a big company doesn't mean they worked for a big company. Take your time in the hiring process. But if you hire the wrong person, at some point you just have to rip the bandaid off and treat the issue that you have been covering up - staff infection. Fire quickly!
I know several business leaders who have a hard time firing people. I remember the first I ever had to fire. Oh, I wrestled with this, but I spoke to a friend, Jeff, and he said this, "I have never fired anyone, they fire themselves." Now, I recognize it's an individuals behavior, attitude, and ability that determines their level of competency. If they don't have what it takes it is my responsibility to release them. Here's the good news - releasing them might be the best thing for them and for us - because it pushes them into a new direction.
Never forget, even dead fish can swim downstream. Simple advice, let them swim passed you!