There are 4 kinds of employees. Two of them will wreck your company, and one will 10x the results. Here are lessons on how I learned to spot each kind, and how you can too.

I used to think there were two kinds of employees – ones that “got it,” and ones that needed help to get it. It was very simplistic. Especially because most of those who didn’t “get it” wouldn’t become productive – even after I through a ton of time and money into training them.

I later adopted something from a fellow entrepreneur who used to call his employees “adders” or “subtractors”:

  • ADDERS are team members you know will be doing their job well. They’re solid performers who add to the value of the company.
  • SUBTRACTORS are in it for themselves, and don’t care about the team and company much. The mission doesn’t interest them. Here for a paycheck, and not doing anything extra.

From this I had a basic performance model: promote adders, fire subtractors.

But could we do better?

We did, when I added two categories:

  • MULTIPLIERS – do their job well like an Adder – but ALSO make the rest of the team perform better. Their contribution goes beyond their own to lift the entire team. Realizing they exist catapulted the company’s results.
  • DIVIDERS – These are toxic and dangerous. They gossip or promote dissent in the group. They thrive in creating drama. It’s important to note: a Divider CAN do excellent work. It’s their effect on the team that determines if they’re a divider. So – what do you do with each type?

Here’s the super simple protocol:

  • MULTIPLIERS – Promote and recognize them immediately. Show them, and the whole team, that they are an example.
  • ADDERS – Show them a path for continued growth for the long term and give them the resources to grow.
  • SUBTRACTORS – Put them on a short fuse performance program, with objective criteria for success (more on how – and a hack – below). If they don’t upgrade performance, let them go. Help them find a new employer where they are a good fit.
  • DIVIDERS – I learned that the only thing to do is fire them NOW. Like immediately. There is no performance program to turn an agent of chaos and dissent into a good team member. If you have one, terminate them now. A divider nearly wrecked my company.

So it’s simple. Keep a list of names, and update it with a little note next to each: + – ÷ x

When you do see that divider – and fire them before they wreck morale at your company, you’ll thank me. Over the years I evolved this model further – even creating a script that could take Subtractors and turn them into Adders, which I’ll share in another article.

Get a weekly list of short, actionable steps to scale your company with simplicity in the Boardroom Bulletin™.

Categories: Team