Leader Volume 8, Number 6
Better: The Worker or
Two years ago, I
directed a group of twenty individuals.
Then, the company was forced to downsize, and I had to cut
my group in half. This
was the most difficult task I’ve ever faced.
It was gut-wrenching since almost all the staff had been
working for me for at least five years.
And each person was valuable to the program.
Furthermore, we all were proud of our achievements and
everyone seemed to enjoy work and working together.
To initiate my
“slashing” activity, I began to ask myself who contributed
most to our goals. So
I identified individuals who generally exhibited the greatest
energy and initiative to their work.
From the other end of the spectrum, I listed those who had
the least energy and initiative.
Then I made my first attempt at deciding which ten would
keep their jobs. Before
I acted on that decision, I was going to “sleep on it” for a
included “Cindy” in the to-be-let-go group since she has a low
energy level, is one of the slowest workers and has never
exhibited any special leadership abilities. However, Cindy happens
to be one of the most imaginative people in my group.
On at least two occasions, it was her idea--taken up by
others--that led us to significant advances.
So I had to
choose whether her creativity, which only contributed once in a
while, was more important than her work assignment activities.
My head told me not to keep her, but my heart told me that
she should stay.
Finally, I made
the decision: she was
to remain. That
decision turned out to have been a very good one.
Cindy still is a slow worker, but she still contributes key
ideas. One of these
ideas recently led to a marketing breakthrough.
For that idea, Cindy was given a significant bonus directly
from our CEO.
this Forum to underline what has been often stated:
that ideas, especially during difficult times, are critical
to success. This
example with Cindy certainly supports that view.