“It’s easy to fire the people who aren’t doing their jobs. You know they need to go.

The hardest ones to fire are the ones who work to the bar. They show up, they work, they never complain, and they are holding your company back.”

That was the start of a conversation I had with an extremely successful businessman. I have to say, I am in total agreement with his assessment.

Most people think that firing a good worker is insane. He is everything you want because he:

  • Shows up on time
  • Does exactly what he needs to do
  • Doesn’t make waves
  • Is a yes man
  • Doesn’t argue
  • Never challenges
  • Works to the bar

Why on earth would I get rid of someone who’s like that? Here’s why:

As a business, if you aren’t continuing to develop and grow, you are falling behind. Period.

You can guarantee that somewhere, your competition is growing. They are going to surpass you, and you’ll be eating their dust. While you’re trying to figure out what’s happening, and how you can possibly put together a game plan to get your company back on track; your competition will be lapping you. Soon, your numbers are sliding, cutbacks start coming, people start quitting, customers stop buying, and your business dies.

In order to grow your business, you have to be innovative. You have to continually look for ways to get better. In order to get better, you have to have everyone on your team looking for ways to make that happen. And Steady Eddie, isn’t going to help you get that done. Steady Eddie, wants to keep your company right where it is, because it’s comfortable. And that’s a death knell for your business.

In research I am doing for an upcoming white paper, I polled 50 people about the reasons they quit a company. Unsurprisingly many responded with poor management, lack of training and support, as well as poor working conditions and pay. To me, the most interesting reasons were the following:

  • Lack of company innovation
  • The company modelling their competition too closely
  • Lack of strategy
  • No foresight
  • Not staying true to their unique selling point

All of these reasons suggest a company that isn’t growing or innovative. Some of the people polled mentioned the complacency of their peers. These are companies with a bevy of Steady Eddie’s.

The companies that develop more leaders more quickly than anyone else will be leading the pack, and staying there.

Now obviously, you can’t go in and immediately start punting people left right and centre, you have to get a few things in place first to develop a culture that supports innovation, but the bottom line is: Get rid of Steady Eddie and start hiring Innovative Ian. You’ll be much better off.



Photo credit: bjornmeansbear / iWoman / CC BY-SA

1 Comment

  1. Dan Giercke says:

    Great post Andrea! A company full of Innovative Ian’s sounds wonderful. I can understand the dilemma of letting the “Steady Eddie” type go. Having a reliable, consistent employee would seem to be an asset, although like you’ve pointed out, it’s the comfortable employees that are drifting along and holding the company back from becoming remarkable.

    Best of Success,

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