Why My Company Grew 300% in 12 Months – After Firing My Top Producer
We’ve all had them (or worked with them) at some point. I’m not talking about poor performers either. There’s a big difference. While poor performers might limit growth, cancerous employees can absolutely kill it.
What does a cancerous employee look like?
Here are some of the red flags:
- Speaking negatively about the company or management
- Saying inappropriate things
- Insubordinate behavior
- Manipulative behavior
Sometimes a cancerous employee might even be your number one producer. You can’t imagine letting them go. But the longer you keep them around, the easier it is for their “cancer” to spread. Other employees’ production suffers. You end up with cranky managers – and issues retaining employees.
Many years ago, I found myself in that exact situation. This employee tried to charm most coworkers, but he spoke poorly of the company and management. Whenever I showed up to the office, everyone crowded around his desk would scatter.
Bottom line: it was difficult to manage effectively with him around.
Why did I put up with it?
This guy was my top producer, bringing in almost half my revenue! So I was torn. All his production was making me a ton of money. But was all the drama really worth it?
I wrestled with that question for months.
Finally, I made a decision for my own health and the health of my company. As great as his production was, I knew he was a factor in other employees’ poor performance and our retention issues. He left us trapped, unable to grow.
I terminated him.
The consequences came fast and furious. I lost half my revenue… ouch. But I was happy, and surprised to see just how many people in the office – people I thought were on his side – came around and even thanked me for doing it.
With him gone, my employees started to flourish. We had an awesome team, people that got me psyched to get out of bed every morning. Everyone wasn’t just happier, they were also a lot more successful. Some even turned into rockstars of their own.
Within just 12 months I was able to triple the size of our sales team and revenue.
That experience taught me that a company can’t reach its full potential with a cancerous employee around – even if they’re a top producer. I saw firsthand how the negativity spread through my office, holding back others’ sales and the ability to grow. This position was in sales, but it could happen in any department.
My ending was a happy one only because I bit the bullet. I took a step backwards to take three steps forward.
Branding today depends on your company culture. That culture hinges on your employees making this kind of behavior unacceptable. Everyone deserves to work in a healthy environment, one that encourages success and growth.
Have you ever dealt with an employee or co-worker that spread negativity and stifled your growth? How did you handle them? We’d love to hear from you!