In 2020 our biggest goal should be to pay attention to RED FLAGS.

Actual Red Flags tell you there’s danger ahead and to proceed with caution. Red Flags fly when there is dangerous surf at the beach, or when there’s a wreck during a car race. Just as importantly, we need to heed when the figurative Red Flags are flying during a relationship before it becomes a real heartache.

I am a recovering Rescuer. I grew up in a massively dysfunctional and alcoholic family which, of course, programmed me to overlook RED FLAGS to stay sane, since almost everything in my life was not congruent.

I have to work hard to recognize the RED FLAG for Toxic Narcissists – people who mean well but are incompetent pretenders – so I can end the relationship fast and move on. From childhood, most of us are programmed by society to always try to see the best in people. When I follow that bad advice I always lose. Developing the ability to see Red Flags should be our number one focus in our businesses and relationships for this upcoming year.

Ignoring RED FLAGS can result in the most painful and costly mistakes imaginable. We all have been guilty of trying to see the good in people, giving them second chances (or third, or 100) when we should have been setting proper boundaries instead. If we TRUST without verification, and are not good at reading the “obvious,” we will spend a massive amount of emotional, mental, physical, and financial energy trying to recover.

No doubt you have your own stories how, over and over again, you tried to be the Good person – only to learn that “no good deed goes unpunished” and you end up suffering.

I just endured this with a Team member I hired last year. Costly mistakes mounted, but they always had an excuse. When they blamed problems on our clients being “difficult” I finally started to pay attention to the Red Flag, because we don’t have any difficult clients.

After discovering they spent most of their time on the phone asking for help to do things they should be totally proficient in, I let them go. I finally saw the biggest Red Flag of all that they weren’t who they had presented themselves to be.

Also, I now see the Red Flag of someone not being willing to see their own shortcomings or take responsibility for them, always downplaying any role they had in the messes they created.

Here are some tips on how you can deal with the RED FLAGS in your life:

You have an intuition or instinct system, so use it more often. When someone CONFUSES you with their behaviors or statements, PLEASE pay attention and DO NOT BLOW IT OFF. Start recording these things in their file. Then you can start to see the mistakes, wasted time and the seriousness of these people staying in your organization. Don’t justify the RED FLAG with, “It was just an off day.” Trying to ONLY see the good in people will cost you big time.

SLOW DOWN YOUR HIRING PROCESS. A hiring mistake is very expensive and very damaging to an ENTREPRENEURIAL business. The right employees will be successful, even if they’re in a box, underwater, with their hands tied behind their backs! The wrong employees won’t be successful, no matter how long you spend coaching them or how much money you spend training them. THEY HAVE TO GO for your own mental health and the health of your business. You cannot keep paying people who make huge mistakes.

As William Ury said in his book Getting to Yes, “Go slow to go fast.” Good hiring decisions are deliberate and disciplined. Follow interviewing best practices by:

  1. Asking behavioral questions and listening keenly for what’s said and not said.
  2. Watching body language for comfort and discomfort during the interview.
  3. Using scenario-based interviews, giving candidates a chance to demonstrate whether or not they can do aspects of the job.
  4. Do a mean reference check.
  5. Most importantly, don’t let an urgent need drive your decision making. Red flags are not to be ignored. “Maybe it will work out,” or “I have some concerns, but we’ll see,” result in Nightmares and Sleepless Nights.

Pay attention when someone else waves the Red Flag that there is a problem in your business. Don’t just brush it off because you are so tired of dealing with the fires that you can see.

If there is a continued problem with someone’s performance don’t let them CLOUD your mind with excuses, blaming you for not enough training, not enough time, not enough anything. RED FLAG!

Be willing to be Proactive right away. Make plans immediately to replace a problem person. Painful, yes, but you are just going to have more problems IF you do not make changes. Figure out what you did wrong hiring them and keeping them. Look within yourself and make some new, more empowering changes in the future, so you can avoid having to suffer through another bad hire.

BE willing to be a New Student! Learn what you need to learn to be able to replace a problem person with some knowledge. For example, I have stopped feeling like a hostage since I downgraded some of my technology to the point that I understand it better. Also, I just took a Quick Books course so I never have to take anyone’s word on my own accounting, and can EASILY check for myself.

BE willing to face the music and be without someone in your business versus the “someone is better than no one” attitude. Take back your power and remove all people who literally cause you pain or are incompetent. THEY HAVE TO GO. No matter how nice they are, or if they’re friends or family, IF THEY cannot or will not hold up their end of the bargain, they MUST BE released back into the wild. It is not fair to you, your other TEAM Players and your clients, customers or patients to keep the weak link in your chain.

Give yourself PERMISSION that the health of your business is far greater than the needs or ego of others. I know this may sound harsh but it is the truth. To the degree you love your business you will be willing to do the hard stuff of releasing what is not working. BE Brave and take care of You first. BEST wishes to everyone for a great 2020,

Lee Milteer
Business & Life Strategist
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