People talk about companies being a family all the time. I'm not sure I believe that to be true. Why does your crazy Uncle Larry keep coming to Christmas? Because you can't fire family. I understand that some families do fracture and don't see one another, but you get my point.

Companies fire people. Often. And, people quit. Often. It's hard to have a high-growth company and not make hiring mistakes. That's what a firing or a resignation truly is: the acknowledgement of a mistake.

When someone is fired or someone quits, it's acknowledging a mistake.

1. A hiring mistake. The employee shouldn't have been brought on board. Either the skill set was incorrect, the attitude wasn't analyzed accurately, or business wasn't good enough to bring someone on board permanently. Many options, but to hire the person was a mistake. 

2. A management mistake. The person was good, but managed poorly. Could be not correcting a negative attitude at the right moment. It may be that the employee wasn't held accountable to executing the work in a timely fashion. Perhaps the person wasn't trained the right way. Management mistakes. They happen every day.

Having a team is very different than having a family. Teams are about contribution, and families are about acceptance. Teams are about a certain level of conformity. Most certainly in responsibility and execution. Team work.

Families are about accepting the eccentricities of your family members. "That's how they are, but they are ours." The family goal isn't to expand to create more opportunity for the individuals. In fact, the more it grows, the scarcer the resources become. The same amount of income to cover more people would never be a business model.

So it's time to look in the mirror and acknowledge that when an employee doesn't work out, it was a mistake. Even when a long-tenured employee leaves, you have to own it. Why wasn't the job or opportunity they left for available at your company?

Now, I understand if someone leaves to be a CEO, or a promotion that didn't exist, or for a salary that's too great to pass up. There are always exceptions. But the mass number of exits, voluntarily or involuntarily, are corporate management mistakes.

If your company is profitable and you have good employees, why aren't there new avenues created to expand revenue and give people opportunities internally?

A reflective leadership style looks in the mirror and says, "It's on us."

The conversations we didn't have. The lunches and dinners leaders didn't have with high-potential employees. The management training that didn't occur to teach new (or experienced) leaders how to communicate down. They can communicate up or they wouldn't have gotten the job or promotion. The ability to communicate down is not a science, it's an art.  

If as a leader you don't have the humility to acknowledge your and your team's mistakes when it comes to people, you won't ever be able to create the culture you aspire to have.

If  you like this post, follow @TomGimbel for more.

Published on: Apr 30, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.