The Single Most Important Question Every Manager Must Ask

When Jack Welch ran GE, one of the rules he introduced was to trim the deadwood from his organization by systematically and consistently firing the bottom 20 percent of GE performers every year. That was Jack’s way of saying I want a team composed of the best and the brightest, and I am willing to take what some view as ruthless and unpopular action to achieve it.

Similarly,but on a much more modest scale, when the small group of Microsoft founders told Bill, “We have 12 great people now but the time has come to recruit the next 12,” Gates responded with a wise challenge: “First find me one great person, then we’ll move on to the next.”

Welch, Gates and other highly successful leaders recognize that a “team” is not a word as much as it is a living, breathing organization capable of moving an enterprise forward to great heights — or it is not.

Gates, Welch, Knight, Ellison are all vastly different men, but they are united in at least one common philosophy/mode of action. That is they were (and in some instances still are) acutely aware of the quality of the people on their teams.

Actually more than aware. They were willing to act and to personally answer the question: “Who should be on my team and who should not?”

Regardless of the size of an organization, a leader must establish strict criteria for gaining and retaining a place in the enterprise and an equally sharp discipline for who must leave.

 Although leaders may establish different standards, they must do two vital things:

 *Create profiles describing the kinds of people they want on their team.

 *Establish red flags for investigating signs of subpar performance and when the verdict is negative, establish protocols for removing these people from the enterprise.

The goal of every leader should be to create and enhance a team of distinction. But if recruiting is random and poor performers are permitted to remain on the payroll, the organization deteriorates into a team of extinction.

Increase Your Team's Swing: Learn How >