Dear Ryan Burton ,
Food for Thought is our way of sharing interesting concepts on corporate leadership and management with others who might find it useful. The thoughts offered are intended to be controversial and thought provoking. They always follow our motto of helping develop logical leadership.
In the Food for Thought June 2008 we offered a provocative letter from a CEO inviting his employees to tender their resignation. (Please read the resignation letter therein to get the most of this Food for Thought.) Although the proposed letter might be unlawful in some, impractical in most, and certainly difficult to execute in all, jurisdictions, we have offered a way to realize the positive benefits of the letter through a hypothetical exercise that we call the Resignation Exercise.
The idea is for the CEO to bring his executive team into a conference room and pretend – just PRETEND – that he had sent out the resignation letter to his employees, or some top level subset of the employees. The executive team discusses how each of the employees would react to the letter; who might submit their resignations; and whose resignations they might accept. This discussion is intended to bring to surface the employees that are in the parking lot, a la Food for Thought July 2010. Such a discussion, involving the full participation of the executive team, causes each executive to become conscious and intentional about their problem employees. Our belief and claim that “rational people acting intentionally always do the right thing,” then ensures that the hypothetical exercise in the conference room will be followed up by appropriate actions by the executives.
Lest the reader should take false comfort that your company does not have employees whose resignations you would accept, we should quickly state our claim that almost all companies larger than a few people in size has employees whose resignation management would accept. In fact, most companies have employees (often termed a prima-donna) who have a false self-assessment of being indispensable.
Michael Easton, President & CEO of Argus Industries (www.argusindustries.ca) in Winnipeg, Canada, decided to go through with the resignation exercise. He and his executive team spent half a day going over 52 employees asking the question “whose resignations would they accept?” After discussing each employee they placed the employee’s name on a “Hero to Zero” chart, as he calls it. Michael explains his chart as a 4-point scale with, “Hero, Right Person-Right Seat, Right Person-Wrong Seat, Zero-Off the bus.” The executive team began to form an understanding of where each employee fits on the Argus Bus, “key person, good person, someone to move to a new position to add more value or just get them off the bus,” explains Michael.
What does Michael think of the exercise? “We had a fantastic discussion about our people and where we need to move them and just accepting that we cannot keep protecting some staff that just really don’t cut it anymore and we really have to work together to find a new place for them to get back to adding value to the company. We all thought it was very valuable and a great way to bring the team together and strategize about the future.”
Moral of the story: There is considerable value to dreaming up out of the box ideas, but executing them within the box of a conference room.
We have received many responses to our Food for Thought mailings, asking if you can freely share and forward these thoughts. Indeed you can. All we ask is that a clear attribution to LogiStyle and our contact information are included. For the interested reader, we have archived some of our recent Food for Thought mailings at our website, and can be viewed at LogiStyle: Food for Thought Archive. As always, we welcome your comments. We hope your business is doing well. If we can be of any assistance please fell free to call – even, if just to chat.