My Thoughts on American Buisness
As a supervisor I stand on the front line between upper management and the employees. It didn’t take long to identify a major flaw in our business relationship. Upper management wants the best employees available. Okay, that makes sense. Businesses strive for high achievers in the workforce, but what’s the reward for high achievers? Well, more work of course. And where does this work come from? It comes from the under achievers – the workers who are not doing their fair share. The result is that the business loses the high achievers who eventually get fed up and leave for better opportunities, and the business is left with the do-nothing slugs. Everyone suffers under this system, except maybe the slugs.
Any new idea aimed at correcting the issue are instantly met with critical rejection. I hear many excuses for why the process can’t be changed, but all the excuses boil down to the same excuse: This is the way it’s always been done. (which makes me want to bash my brains out with a hammer). I thought this mindset came from the fact that America fosters a culture that penalizes hard workers, while tolerating poor performance, however I now believe this is just a side-effect of a greater problem: American business does not change well. American business suffers because it stubbornly refuses to accept that any new idea could be beneficial, or that change can be positive. I hear the chant almost daily – “This way worked fine 20 years ago.” If this job have taught me anything it’s that the greatest power a person can have is getting another person to accept a new idea.
My observation as an over-achiever at my job is that the American economy relies on under-achievers to keep the maximum number of people employed. The larger a company grows, the more the work becomes project-based and requires committees to accomplish anything. This ensures everyone has just enough busy work to do to remain employed. Veterans who stick around constantly complain/reminisce about the days when 1 or 2 people accomplished the same task in less time.
Another epiphany I’ve had about the coddling of under-achievers is that it correlates directly with the quality of their manager. Many managers are afraid to hire someone smarter or more capable than themselves so hire less qualified employees. Once hired, the manager is reluctant to fire poorly performing employees out of fear it will reflect badly on the manager’s ability to hire qualified employees. Poorly performing employees also require more supervision which is believed to result in job security for the manager. Highly effective employees put a manager’s job at risk. Poor performers give them leverage, “You can’t let me go because then you will get stuck with managing these knuckle-draggers.”