I have yet to meet a leader who has regretted taking action too fast on a misfit in his or her team, but I often meet leaders who regret not taking action faster. Only last week, a CEO told me how his failure to address issues with an executive on his team led to two key salespeople leaving, which will damage the company's ability to hit its sales target for the quarter.

The issue cannot always be defined as underperformance. What you needed your team to deliver two years ago is likely different from what you need them to deliver today--but have you reset expectations and considered whether each team member is still in the right role given how fast your company is growing?

When hiring, Amazon always asks, "Is this person better than 50 percent of the people doing this role today?" This is a fantastic way to strengthen those who are coming into the company, but are your existing employees keeping up with the pace? Here are 10 quick questions to help you determine whether you tolerate mediocrity:

  1. Can you immediately think of someone on your team you should have already dealt with?
  2. Do your managers clearly understand your expectations for how you want them to lead?
  3. Do you have frequent forums for managers to discuss, share, and learn outstanding leadership lessons?
  4. Do you hold up your strongest people managers as role models for others?
  5. Do you spend 25 percent of your leadership team discussions talking about your people?
  6. Do you review how successful your new hires are after 90 days?
  7. Does every employee have clear, measurable goals?
  8. Do employees discuss goals and personal development with their manager?
  9. Do you proactively consider how you can move people into roles that play to their strengths?
  10. If all else fails, do you help people leave swiftly and with grace?

The first step to take is resetting expectations. Every month you wait is a month when you risk that one of your best people will quit. Gather all of your employees who manage people, share your leadership values, and explain how you want them to lead.

Many times, the mismatched employee will call you three months later to thank you for ending his misery and allowing him to find a job he loves.

Clear expectations, simple goals, fast feedback, and precise action will banish mediocrity in your company. Which step do you need to focus on today?

Published on: Apr 28, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.