In my consulting practice, I often came across a certain experience that I felt highly opinionated about.  Today, I fully disagree with my previous conclusions.

People would inform me that they were recently fired and were, obviously, very upset.  “I worked so hard,” they would tell me. “60 hours or more per week. When they fired me, they had to replace me with three people, and what is the reward for my hard work– for saving the company money, working for three people and getting the salary of one? I get fired!”

I used to feel for the person and judge the company, not only for its heartlessness but also because it seemed to be a poor managerial decision to fire such an outstanding, hard working and loyal employee.  Now that I have experienced having to fire such an employee, I have a different perspective.

Which kind of managerial style do you believe will work sixty hours a week? A (P)roducer right? And why is this person continuously working such long hours? Because this person’s style is of a Lone Ranger, who does not delegate. He or she causes all work to go through them, requiring him or her to work very long hours. So when the Lone Ranger is fired, three people have to take this person’s job; It was a task meant for three people, yet (s)he insisted on doing it all by him/herself.

Do you believe he was doing a good job? No! Things fell in between chairs. Many tasks missed their deadline because he was just too busy.  He was juggling too many balls in the air while he could only hold one ball at a time.

(P)s are linear in their behavior. While they want to do everything, the fact is their style is to do one thing at a time, which means all other assignments get neglected. And they do not make priorities well.  They pay attention to the “squeakiest” wheel first, putting aside the significant tasks for later and addressing them only when they become a crisis.

Would you keep such an employee, especially if this person is in a managerial position?

This person is a dangerous bottleneck who is costing you far more than the salary you pay him or her because of the damage their style is causing. “But they work hard,” someone might argue.  You want people that work for you to work intelligently, not just hard.

“But replacing this person with three other people costs more money,” someone else might say.  Not so. Since this person is a bottleneck, you probably consider him or her indispensable, so to keep them going you have given them salary increases and bonuses. They might be way overpaid for the formal position they hold. Add to it the cost of mistakes, decisions not followed up in a timely manner, and the loss of productivity by others waiting for the “bottle neck” to process decisions, and you might find out that this person is way, way too expensive to keep. You might find that replacing him or her with three normal-hours-working, competent individuals actually makes you more money.

My recommendation is to watch out for people that work too hard and are indispensable. They cost you money, not save you money.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes