5 Steps to Apply the “Trading Deadline” As a Last Resort On Small Business Teams

Last Friday I wrote about the “trading deadline” in Major League Baseball and how the concept applies to small business leadership and team development.

I promised to provide you with the five step process that my clients apply as a last resort for raising the bar on team performance from an individual contributor’s perspective.

Below are the 5 steps to implement to apply the “Trading Deadline” when necessary:

Step 1: Create Position Results Scorecards
Sit down with your team member and discuss specific attitude, behavior and performance expectations for a certain time period of between three-to-six months. Make the goals specific and measurable. Put them in a document called the Position Results Scorecard (PRS). This is the document that will be used to track progress as well as a foundation for the on-going performance conversations you will be having weekly.

Step 2: Apply “The Clean Slate Strategy”
This means that everyone on the staff from the highest levels to the frontline agrees that for this person (and everyone else on the staff, too, but particularly this individual) “the past is the past, and nothing can change the past,” and we can only impact the future. This person will get an immediate “clean slate” with the new performance goals agreed to in Step 1 and documented in the PRS will be the new standard against which this individual will be consistently evaluated.

Step 3: Provide Development Support
So that this team member has an opportunity to contribute according to the new standards with the skills and attitudes necessary, a commitment to providing training, coaching, mentoring and consistent positive and constructive feedback must be part of the plan moving forward. A professional development plan for each person should be created as part of the PRS from the discussion in Step 1.

Step 4: Assess Skill Development & Performance
Continual assessment of this team member’s attitude, behavior and performance against the new standards will determine progress towards meeting the standards. As this team member gets closer to the time frame necessary for fulfilling the new standards decisions need to be made regarding their future in the organization.

Step 5: Apply The Trading Deadline
This is the time decisions have to be made regarding the individual’s future. If they are adequately performing up to standards they will be embraced as a permanent member of the team. If they are still under-performing either the deadline can be extended if progress is promising, or if progress is not being made and it seems they will not be able to meet the standard then it is time to terminate their employment and make a change. Often, the employee will make their own determination during the course of the development process that they may not be a fit for the organization any longer and make their own decision to make a change.

NOTE: A good mantra to keep in mind when applying this process is “I do not terminate employees. Employees earn their termination through consistent non-performance in the face of overwhelming feedback!”

What do you think of these 5 steps and the concept of the employee “Trading Deadline?” Leave a comment below.

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