The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

December 31, 2019

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

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In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about making exceptions for employees.

There might come a time in your startup when a team member might ask you to make an exception for them either due to their performance or due to unforeseen circumstances. Deciding whether to give such exceptions to a team member can be tricky as you’ve got to consider how it will affect your workforce.

In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about why you should always prioritize the group instead of a person, the mindset of an employer's mind when they let go of a person, why exceptions are not the new normal and much more. 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:32 Why this topic was chosen.

04:33 Why you should always prioritize the group instead of the person.

05:08 The mindset of an employer's when they let go of a person.

05:00 How companies can over-index on an individual’s needs versus the group.

05:35 How to approach a situation when a team member wants to be treated differently.

06:31 Questions to ask yourself before giving a team member special treatment.

06:39 Why exceptions are not the new normal.

08:44 The different way ways to make an exception for team members.

09:54 How to judge a team member’s performance.

3 Key Points:

When you let go of someone, there’s a lot of people who spend a lot of energy on the person being let go instead of the team that’s still there.You’re over-indexing on the people leaving.Ask yourself, if you’d do this for anyone else on the team if they were in the same situation.


Steli Efti: Hey, everybody. This is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti: And today on The Startup Chat we're going to talk about making exceptions for employees. Is this a good idea, bad idea. How to approach this topic? Here's why I want to talk about this with you, Hiten. So recently I was talking to a manager and she was describing to me kind of her team and team set up and some of the challenges that she has and she went through a list of like certain things that were challenging on one team member and challenging on another team member. Most stuff sounded kind of pretty normal. And then she talked about one of her direct reports who is this amazing human being. Great personality and person. Is bringing a lot of value to the plate but has this like very difficult life situation and all these things going on in her life and like it's just very, very messy, very complicated stuff that leads this manager to make all kinds of exceptions for her. Right? There's like, she might work less at times than her coworkers. She might get a whole weeks, where she does almost nothing. She might get special projects to work on versus the work that she was really hired for because she liked those special projects more and she needs something to support her emotional needs because she's going through trauma in her life and other areas. And as we were talking about that, like I was very much reminded of the sales teams of the past. This is a very different example. If I could share the details, it will be very hard not to feel an insane amount of like empathy for that person that's getting all these exceptions, but it reminded me very much of the sales teams of the past that will be built with these incredible assholes in them that would be crushing it when it came to their quota and just bringing in revenue and customers and just destroying it in terms of the amount of money that would bring in for the company, but just be terrible to their coworkers. Just crush morale, be terrible to new sales reps. Just be super toxic employees. Right. And I would always tell sales managers that they need to cut them loose. Like nobody is important enough, no matter how much value they bring in. For them to be basically,

Key points in this episode

In this episode

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