Reliability and competency.

Those are the building blocks of companies that operate smoothly.

When one of those two items is broken, no amount of well-wishing or effort can make up for it.

If you’re an entrepreneur trying to scale up your business, you know that hiring more people and partners increases your risk of any one of your team members being not reliable or not competent.

And while teams are typically a business multiplier in the positive direction, if you have a “weakest link” issue, then your multiplier is a negative number.

Try multiplying $100,000 times a minus 10, and see what you get.

It’s not the fault of the individual people when this happens.

It’s a management issue to qualify, train, and manage people— to not let people wander into areas that would get them into trouble, plus to spot and remedy issues before they go out of control.

As a small company, just like ours, swallowing these mistakes can cost you more cash than you have. And cost you more time than you have, which creates a negative multiplier.

For example, if your time is diverted into dealing with squeaky wheels, you’re distracted from what’s generating income for your company and from spending time with your high achievers.

Guess what happens to high achievers when they are unintentionally neglected in a company because leadership is spending most of the time on the people who are causing problems?

Jack Welch, voted the best CEO in America, says we should spend a disproportionate amount of time on our top people.

Who would disagree with that?

Until you realize that the only way to do this is to cull the bottom performers— the squeaky wheels, who inadvertently eat up all your time.

Therefore, make sure that reliability and competency are table stakes— fundamentals, not special achievements you award. They are a given.

You’d not give out awards for people who show up on time, don’t steal at work, or know how to use a keyboard to type words.

These are a given.

Raise your standards and your people will follow.

Because merely “good” people are how you kill a great company.

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