Dec 292011
sometimes business donkeys are in staff, sometimes in management

An article in Bloomberg on The Three Types of People To Fire Immediately is a classic example of mistaking symptoms for the cause of an organisation’s problems.

G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón write that the biggest blockers to innovation in a business are the employees who can be roughly divided into four groups; the ones who welcome innovation and the three groups who block it – “the victims”, “the non-believers” and “the know it alls.”

Vitón’s and Maddock’s advice is to sack those in the three groups of blockers.

If anything sacking the “know it alls” means you will lose valuable corporate memory, the “non-believers” maybe the dissenters who are critical in keeping visions in contact with reality and the “victims” may actually be the most passionate people in your organisation.

Those “victims” are often the people who’ve tried to make a difference early in their careers, their attempts failed and they found themselves sidelined and embittered within the organisation.

I came across many of these when I was working with the state government, they’d had good ideas and continuously found themselves belittled when they’d tried to implement them.

To add insult to injury, many of those ideas would be adopted some years later to great fanfare with credit given to the same managers who’d stifled the earlier suggestio

Rather than giving those “victims” a pink slip, it might be worthwhile talking to those staff and finding why they are negative and where the system can be improved.

If you have a workplace full of negativity then the blame for a dysfunctional culture usually lies in the management suite.

Perhaps it’s the managers who need to be fired for creating a nay-sayer business culture of victims and non-believers.

My concern with Vitón’s and Maddock’s advice is that it seems to play to the conceit of executives who think they, and their organisations, are something they are not. That’s nice for management consultants stoking corporate egos but a lousy deal for shareholders, staff and customers.

Sometimes it’s better to understand what your business is and where the organisation’s strengths lie  – both in management in and staff – before jumping on the innovation bandwagon.

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