Firing employees should not be the go-to strategy to improve performance, but it should be one of the many tools in the box. Corrective action, discussions, clear direction are often tossed around as panaceas. They are not. Employees are just like society. There are fantastic people and worthless shells. Our current policies severely limit our ability to separate, not only those two factions, but to reward or penalize those in between.

It is part of the problem.

Back in the dark ages, when I was in school, the smart kids got away with stuff other kids didn’t. They could be late, absent, miss assignments and other more nefarious infractions (we had a smart kid who was tacitly allowed to chew gum – a straight-to-the-office transgression for normal folks). It was a double standard and everybody knew it, including them. As one teacher said, if you want those perks, study harder. It was more fun to complain about the double standard and not a lot of time was done doing that.

Once upon a time, it happened at work too. The good employees weren’t harassed when arriving late, could leave early and got other perks. The fact these employees were quantitatively more efficient and easier to work with made excusing the occasional lapse acceptable. This was fine until Human Resources (HR) garnered more control, it saw it as a double standard and any attempt to justify excusing any altercation based on performance or attitude was summarily dismissed by them. It was a double standard and it was unacceptable. This all happened before HR metamorphized into the draconian institution it is today, but it is part of what drove its rise to power. In days past, HR was a service organization, not one promulgating ideologic company policy or fearmongering managers with threats of employee litigation. But I digress.

Sometimes, this parochialism had much less to do with the efficiency of the employee and more about the boss, favoritism, cluelessness, wimpy management or simply incompetence. This is how HR gathered power. It was given this power so management would not have to deal with the spectrum of employees. All employees within a job description would act and meet certain standards. Great employees would be given higher raises and lesser employees would not receive such generous bumps. Sounds great in theory. In practice, not so much.

In practice, good employees continue to do good work and try to ignore incompetent or lazy co-workers. Good managers reinforce their work and remind them often of their value, they help them covertly. But the incompetent remain, forever. They multiply and get promoted. Many times, the good employees leave for greener pastures or eventually retire. The other group takes over.

As the Peter Principle fulfills its unspoken assignment, fewer things are accomplished and bare minimums become the new standard. This is where much of the government resides now. There are many examples (e.g., the border). Policy is partially to blame, but when there is no review, the policy is irrelevant. Crime is a good example, if there is a refusal to prosecute, is it the policy or the people responsible for enforcing the policy that are to blame? If fewer people are prosecuted, did fewer crimes occur? By prosecuting fewer crimes, statistically, crime will be reduced. By doing nothing, a statistical improvement is achieved.

Tell that to the victims!

This is where we are as a society. Education, and that whole industry needs to be trashed and remade, is another one. If the industry does not care if the student learns, what did they teach? How does the system remove bad teachers or administrators? Parental involvement in education is great, but standards must be enforced.

Until society embraces an expeditious termination policy for the incompetent and lazy, productivity will suffer. It will continue to damage morale and efficiency. Society will become the victim as it cultivates less educated and productive individuals. We have already seen some of it and it will get worse, they will become increasing entitled. While not tracked by any statistical method, this group of oblivious, yet arrogant, frontmen appear content to watch the walls around it crumble as they insist they are following policy. As some plead for policy reviews and change, current leadership is persistent that nothing is wrong.

The house is burning and all they see is a fireplace.

Categorized as Policy


  1. When the government sets the example of octogenarians continuing to run for an office they’ve held, and proceeded to screw up, since before time began, who the fuck is going to change that?

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