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GE’s reputation was to get rid of the bottom 10% of their employees to keep raising the bar. In professional services the mantra is to get rid of the bottom 10-20% of your clients (or client types) because they take up too much time, the work is not challenging or doesn’t pay enough.

While at our recent Rotary district conference and my club’s retreat it struck me how much effort we put into the bottom 10%. I’ll bet 80% or more of the effort goes into the very small, struggling clubs, wondering why some members don’t fit (and therefore resign) or how to get marginal (not active) members to participate at a higher level.

This is not unique to Rotary. I’ll bet the same discussions have been held a gazillion times in Kiwanis, Lions and other service clubs. I know these discussions take place at other non-profits.

Why do we do this? If we were to shift that 80% of effort to the 90% of good members and solid clubs we’d grow and get more done. That 80% would generate more money and create more and better projects. We’d then have a larger and stronger base to build on to do even more good.

The same is true in our businesses. How much effort do we put into the following?

  • The demanding, pain-in-the-butt, customer
  • Employees who don’t care, don’t have the right skills or haven’t grown as the company has grown.
  • Product lines that just aren’t selling

In the last month or so I’ve passed on a few client prospects. One I told I wasn’t the right person for the job (it would have been way too labor intensive) and with one existing client I didn’t even suggest a follow-up project. It allows me to concentrate on my better clients and it feels so good!

“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.” Carl Lewis

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