Powills: You Can Change People, But You Can’t Change People
Powills: You Can Change People, But You Can’t Change People

By evaluating contribution and talent through core values, businesses will be able to build the right teams.

I was recently talking with an advisor about people challenges.

When I started No Limit Agency, I did so with a question: What would it take to encourage someone to stay with the business forever?

Sure, that question is a little naïve, but, it’s an interesting thought. What would it take?

People leave jobs because they:

  1. Hate their boss
  2. Want to get paid more
  3. Want a promotion
  4. Want more balance

If those are the reasons, then what would it take?

When we moved our office to Chicago, we invested heavily in the location and the perks, first in River North, and then the Prudential Building. From a physical unit standpoint, we wanted to make sure no other business could offer a better environment (or get close to it). It was worth the expense.

But, one thing became clearer over time. Despite knowing we had a successful checkmark in that office space isn’t the grass that’s greener elsewhere, we had to put work into the real reasons people leave jobs.


With positive work done surrounding our culture, the attention can now turn into ensuring that we have the right people in the right seats. That means we created a foundation of equalizing standards, and now we go to work on our team (which we are actively working on now).

First, we need to look at the core values. Does our team follow them?

It’s very easy to evaluate contribution and talent through the core values. For us, they are simple. Are your respectful to your team and your clients (Culture of Respect), do you care passionately and personally about the success of your client and yourself (Give a Shit) and do you believe anything is possible? We are able to easily score a +, +/- and a – in those categories.

Next comes looking at whether our team gets it, wants it and has the capacity to do it. Those scores are relatively simple, too.

Now, with scorecards in hand, you can see the gaps in the team. In our world, we definitely want 6s – or + scores across the board – but are good with the mentoring and potential of scores totaling 4 and 5. With 3s, we need to put in some work to see if we can move them up or down. With scores below a 3, it becomes essential to communicate the challenge, watch for an immediate change in values (it will be rare) and move those people out.

You can’t change people, but you can change people. Meaning, there are some folks who you can put all of the plans to win in place and end up in the exact same spot. In those cases, your investment of time is more valuable to the 4s, 5s, and 6s – and even seeing if you can motivate a 3 through proper communication and accountability.

Every great business advisor would say to hire slowly, fire quickly. In today’s limited supply world, this works to some extent, but balance and timing are essential, too. Once you commit to building an organization with baby giants and giants, though, you will (as close to a guarantee as possible) see business movement.

I am surely excited to see what happens next with our company when we hire and fire through the core values in a coordinated way.