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Key Idea: Let Go Sooner Than Later

Anne McGilvray says that keeping people in the company who are not performing is just as bad for the you are keeping as it is for the company.

Key Question:


Let go of the bad ones before they impact the good ones.

This is so hard. We don't want to fire a person because we don't want to go through the pain of finding a new person and teaching the new person. David Milly, who owns Theatrical Lighting, says he doesn't want to, "give up on somebody." He sees letting a person go as his own personal failure. We also keep a person because we think that the person we hire to replace the bad apple might cause all kinds of problems we've never had before. Our imaginations run wild so we keep the person we know we should fire.

Anne is like David and most of us small business owners. We are optimists and we want to give others the benefit of the doubt. We hope and hope that someone we hire will deliver on their promises and when that doesn't happen we give them more chances to improve.

Q: What has Anne learned about firing a person?

A: That the person is relieved to be fired. Many have told her, "Thank you." The point is if you're not happy with the performance of an employee, they're not happy either. They just don't have the courage to quit. Anne said, "They are glad to be put out of their misery."

Q: How do we overcome procrastination when it is time to fire someone?

A: Think of the person causing problems as a cancer. Imagine their bad habits spreading through the entire organization. This is not over dramatizing what is actually going on. Bad habits are contagious and you can't afford to contaminate your company. You can even try the popular technique called a probation period. David Milly does this and many other small business owners use this strategy. You simply hire a person, train them, watch them perform and in 90 days the two of you sit down and either agree to make the job permanent or send the person on their way.

Q: Why is it even more important in small business than big business to get rid of a bad apple?

A: Because most of us are trying to create a family feeling. Sure there are black sheep in every family but you have the power to create the ideal family when you are building a workforce. This type of "corporate culture" is one of your recruiting tools when you go up against big business to bring in the best talent. People want to work where they feel loved and appreciated and where the interpersonal relationships are warm and caring. You may not be able to provide top wages and you might not be able to afford dental insurance, but you can make a workplace so pleasant that people line up to come to work for you.

Think about it

What changes can you make in your recruiting strategy to slow the process and increase your odds of success? Who needs to be fired now?

Clip from: AMCI with Anne & Michael McGilvray

Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City: This story begins like so many  stories, one person goes out selling. Her name is Anne McGilvray and she sold holiday cards. She became as a manufacturer's rep and grew her business to $2M in annual revenues. She then invited her husband, Michael, to join her.

Anne knows how to pick products that capture our lighter side, spark our imaginations, and make us smile; Michael controls the magic of technology that transformed this Mom-and-Pop shop into a $60M per-year major distribution channel to over 60,000 retail chains.  We discover two very talented people who find and work with creative, talented people. Spend some time with this episode of the show and you'll learn what it takes to have the magic touch.

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AMCI, Inc. (AM)

Anne McGilvray, Owner

2332 Valdina
Dallas, TX 75207

Visit our web site:

Office: 2146384438

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1975

Let Go Sooner Than Later

HATTIE: And, I mean, are you tweaking...

ANNE: You know, people will tell you what you want to hear, there's no doubt about it. You'll say, `Can you financially afford this?' You know?

ANNE: `Oh, yes.' And then two weeks later, they'll tell their mentor, the person they're with for a year, `Oh, my gosh, you know, I don't know how I'm going to pay my phone bill.' Or, you know, `They're expecting me to go to the border of this state? You know, my gosh, I'd have to stay overnight.' And when that comes up two or three weeks into it, it's like `Oh, Lordy.'

HATTIE: So one piece of advice is cut your losses. Just know that you...

ANNE: Yeah. But put the poor rep out of their misery, too. Sometimes they're really almost--I mean, seriously, sometimes they're like, `Thank you.'

HATTIE: If there's somebody in your organization that's not performing, let them go someplace else, or help them go someplace else.

ANNE: Right. Right.

HATTIE: Your reps are self-employed - independent contractors. They own their business. What's the difference between you and them?

ANNE: Well, basically, all we're providing for them is a wonderful package of products to take out there.We're providing the training. And, we're providing them sort of a foot in the door because our company is established.

HATTIE: Does that make you feel good when they succeed, it's like you've created an opportunity for someone.

ANNE: Oh, sure. This is one of the things Michael and I really enjoy, watching that person not only succeed, but blossom. This kind of career allows you to really be yourself and reflect your own personality.

MICHAEL: Most of the people, and they're very good people, that run rep agencies are, in fact, salespeople themselves.

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