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The Worst Possible Decision

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 by Slaughter Development

Sometimes, it’s hard to evaluate which choice is the best for your business. But it’s clear that one is always the worst: dismissing an employee.

An old management adage suggests that we should “hire slowly and fire quickly.” This advice assumes that the cost of keeping an employee is far greater than the cost of losing them. More often than not, the opposite is true. We need to find ways to retain and value the workers we have by empowering them to succeed.

Take a moment to think about your own employer, or a place you have recently worked. There is probably at least one person who seems to know all of the arcane details about the business. This “subject matter expert” is the one who remembers the unusual clause in long-forgotten agreements, the structure of old filing systems, and the workarounds needed to navigate key systems. If you lost this individual, your company would be in serious trouble. Firing should be the last possible resort.

Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that the march of progress creates a natural tension among some workers. After all, isn’t almost every change about doing more with less? Over a year ago, The Methodology Blog covered workplace improvements. To quote ourselves:

The words used in these old jobs seem antiquated: telephone operator, gas station attendant and book keeper. It might seem like our value as employees is dependent on the arrival of the next gizmo or software application to do our work for us. This belief creates fear, and that fear provides power for a resistance to change.

At Slaughter Development, we invite stakeholders to take a different view of themselves, their work and their organization. We believe that companies, non-profits and government agencies make hiring decisions because they believe in the capacity of individuals. You are more than the sum of your tasks and responsibilities—you are a force for creativity, a source of commitment and limitless potential. A machine might enable you to finish rote tasks faster but it cannot replace brilliance and instinct.

The reason we promote metawork is because we want to encourage stakeholders to actually think about the work they do. Continually improving yourself and business operations is the best possible job security. If your innovations make your job require less time, your boss should hand you more responsibilities, not a pink slip. If your reward for finding ways to work smarter is that you lose your job, take that as proof that you would be valued more elsewhere.

So what does that mean for readers of The Methodology Blog? Please don’t introduce us to managers and directors of companies and non-profits. Instead, help us to meet the front-line people who personally experience productivity challenges every day, so that we can help them to work smarter. Slaughter Development believes in the power of stakeholders to transform business from within.  Contact us to learn more.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

The Worst Place to Work - We think of the office as where we work. Yet if you really want to focus on crucial tasks, heading to our desks during regular business hours is a terrible idea.
Read on »
At Software Startup, Hours Are [Expletive] - Productive, efficient, highly-effective people are often very direct in stating their point of view. One software developer in particular doesn’t hesitate to use a dirty word in his argument about measuring hours at work.
Read on »
Process Follows People - No industry should be more focused on the well-being of people than healthcare. According to a new study however, organizations are over-emphasizing process and technology to the detriment of workers. Read on »
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