Barbara Corcoran on axing subpar sales staff

“Moving least productive people out" important as new talent, Corcoran founder says

Barbara Corcoran
Barbara Corcoran

For Corcoran Group founder Barbara Corcoran, the key to keeping a healthy and happy sales team was to shave the bottom 25 percent of her sales force every year.

If the bottom quarter of her sales crew weren’t hacking it, Corcoran wrote in a recent LinkedIn article titled “Shoot the Dogs Early,” she and then-partner Esther Kaplan wouldn’t be able to support the firm’s top sales people “who were making all the money.”

“Moving our least productive people out and on their way to new careers was as important a part of my job as recruiting new talent, and I knew the faster I did it the better it was for everyone.”

Corcoran’s strategy was to extend a last-minute invitation to employees who fell under the ax, such as “Would you have five minutes for me on Friday?” She also wrote that she made a point to have another manager at her side for moral support.

Such firings would begin with commendation for things the employee did well, recognizing his or her best traits so that the following critique would be easier to swallow, Corcoran wrote.

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“I think giving complete and truthful information allows the individual to leave with his self-esteem intact, so I make that my number-one goal,” the Shark Tank investor wrote.

The process wasn’t always painful for her, however. When it came to cutting “chronic complainers,” she relished the occasion.

“Nothing rots a business faster than a cluster of negative people, so I get them out fast,” she wrote. [LinkedIn]Julie Strickland