The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you make tough business decisions?” is by Adam Ochstein, founder and CEO of StratEx.
To make tough business decisions, use your head, not your heart. If the 2015 World Series has taught us anything, it’s to remove emotions when making difficult decisions. Let me recap: In Game 5 of in the World Series, Mets’ Manager, Terry Collins, removed star pitcher Matt Harvey from the game after pitching eight scoreless innings. But after a negative reaction from both the crowd and Harvey, Collins put him back in the game, which then led to the Mets’ defeat. Collins was later interviewed saying he didn’t go with his gut, but instead let his heart get in the way of making the right decision.
This happens in business all of the time. Whether it’s having to fire a loyal, tenured employee for poor performance, or keeping a client who is a long-time friend but can’t make payments. “Tough” decisions are tough for a reason: there is an emotional connection to the outcome. What leaders need to do is isolate whatever the factor is that’s making the choice difficult, and weigh whether or not it’s something emotional. Think about it from a strategic standpoint and ask yourself, “Will this choice positively or negatively impact revenue growth?” or “Will this positively or negatively impact employee turnover?”
Making a tough decision doesn’t’ necessarily mean it has to be delivered in a tough way. For instance, at StratEx, if an employee is still unable to meet baseline metrics after several conversations regarding poor performance, we usually tell them months in advance to begin looking for another job as we look for someone to replace them. We want them to succeed, and keeping them around isn’t only bad for the company, it’s also bad for their own career growth and development.
Despite ones well-intentioned efforts, if they aren’t a fit for the organization, explaining the “why” is the best way to avoid burning bridges. If an employee isn’t producing, let them go. If your top billing client treats employees poorly and is causing top talent to leave, stop doing business with them. If a manager has a bad attitude, remove them. Allowing your emotions to get in the way of making tough choices could prevent your company from growing from $5 million to $500 million.