To those of you who subscribe by email and got one yesterday afternoon for my latest Practical Lawyer Article, I apologize. I was trying to post it on my own and not only did I mess up the post, I also messed up by not doing it the way so you wouldn’t get an email.

I posted correctly last time, but…this time I needed help from Joyce. She told me the two things I messed up so if you want to read my latest Practical Lawyer Article, you’ll find it here.

If you ever read Jim Collins book: Good to Great, you know where I got the bus analogy.

If you have never read the book, here is a Fast Company article he wrote that summarizes the book pretty well: Good to Great.

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Collins says:

Most people assume that great bus drivers (read: business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.

In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.

It is incredibly hard to build something when you have the wrong people on the bus. I know. I experienced it.

I led my construction law practice group and came to a point where I knew we had two income partners who were the wrong people on the bus. They weren’t happy, they weren’t productive and they were dragging down the rest of us.

Each month I received management reports and the production of one of those partners lagged behind. He was a knowledgeable construction lawyer, and even though we had lots of work, he didn’t step to the plate to take on more of it.

Finally after hearing month after month that I had to do something about his performance, I fired him. At that point I was told I didn’t have the authority to fire an income partner. That was the first I had heard that.

I look back now and think about what I could have done differently. I found an interesting Entrepreneur article: 9 Ways to Manage Underperforming Employees. Each idea was a good one I wish I had tried, especially:

5. Create performance goals together.

I’m not sure my underperforming partner would have done it. But, if by chance he did, then it would be his expected performance, not something dictated by me.

Short, of getting them off the bus, how do you handle a lawyer in your firm or group who is underperforming?