29863720_mI’m not going to put all of my time into developing 100 percent of the people on my team. There you have it. That’s the truth. It may be harsh and cold, but hear me out.

I’m all about business. I live and breathe my businesses, even when I’m taking weekend days off or am I on vacation. I want to succeed and I want my team to succeed.

I’m going somewhere and for those who want to join me on the journey, I’m happy to have them come along. But there are others, it’s just a fact of human nature, who are just biding their time. I’m not going to spend a moment more than I have to with them, and in fact, I’m going to work to get them out the door as fast as I can.

The 33 Percent Rule

With management, I typically follow what I call the 33 percent rule. Every day when I’m in the office, I review all of my dashboard reports. For me, that means I know exactly what my revenue and expenses are, I review the sales pipeline, I look at my projection reports, and I take a look at reporting how long the sales and coaching team are on the telephone.

Their job is to be on the telephone. Period. They have to be building relationships with prospects. They have to be working on viable leads. Or they have to be coaching our current partners for success in their fundraising campaigns. If they’re not on the telephone, they’re not doing their jobs.

When I review the reports for my sales and fundraising team, I know based on those reports who should be developed. The way I see it, one-third of my team are going to be motivated and high performers. I want to retain those people and do what I can to keep them on board. The next third are workers who can be developed to become top performers. They have the skills and motivation necessary. They might just need a little more mentorship and guidance. And finally, there’s the last third of team members who simply don’t belong here.

I’ll be honest, I’m not going to take much time to figure out the bottom third and I’ll work to have them exit quickly.


It’s simple. They are a time suck for my team and me. If someone is not motivated to work, there’s not a thing I can do as a leader to motivate them. Some people are simply not ambitious. That’s not my problem. If they’re not ambitious, they can take that attitude somewhere else.

Others want to join our team on their way to something else. That’s fine. But while they’re here, they better work hard or they’ll be on their way faster than they thought they would.

The Revolving Door is Not a Bad Thing

I know there are countless studies out there saying that a revolving door is bad for the bottom line. What I think is worse is having people on the team at the bottom third. I’m not interested in those people taking the energy away from the people around them at the office. I’m not interested in those people earning one of my dollars for fifty cent work. I’m would be overpaying and as a good businessman, I don’t overpay for anything.

So as far as I’m concerned the revolving door is not such a bad thing. Sure, I want to keep the top two-thirds of employees, but I’m not remotely interested in keeping the bottom third. I’ve been in business long enough to know that it’s very rare there’s anything you can do for these people, other than helping them understand they don’t belong with you and have to leave.

The nonprofit and social good landscape have become much more competitive. For-profit enterprises are coming into the sector and business-as-usual does not work.

I’ve hand countless managers in the social sector call me through the years and speak to me about the employee that’s on their team who’s draining all the energy of the team or taking up management time and attention.

What’s the issue of simply letting this person go? Why does there have to be drama and hand-wringing around letting someone go? If the person is not operating to your level and standards, you’re paying them for a job not done. That’s a waste of money and energy.

So, focus on the 66.66 percent and cut anyone else loose. It doesn’t matter if there’s an appearance of a revolving door. It’s actually more expensive to keep them on board.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)


© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.