Firing People and the Bottom Line – The Quintessential Leader Perspective

Posted: June 16, 2020 in General Things about Quintessential Leadership, Quintessential Leadership
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

yourefired-the-quintessential-leaderNo matter what perspective you view things from here in the middle of June 2020, the global economy and the American economy are in dire straits (despite what the people in leadership positions in the United States say) because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many companies are not in a position to survive, not because there isn’t a way, but because they cannot think outside the box and see different ways. So, they rely on conventional wisdom (always a bad idea) and outdated models of doing business.

They also cling tightly to their stuff, even though, in many cases that is what needs to go because the pandemic has shown us that we have the technology to operate, in many areas of life, with a minimum of stuff.

This stuff includes land, buildings, places to meet, and places to gather. In many cases, they are totally unnecessary and they are draining the lifeblood out of many organizations because the overhead of clinging to these accounts for the major portion of their yearly budgets.

But we live in a society that, from the individual level to the organizational level, sees stuff as the measure of success, so keeping stuff – and getting more stuff – becomes the ultimate goal.

So when revenue falls, the bean counters get together and look at the budget to figure out how to keep all the stuff. Inevitably, the solution is to shed the organization’s people, because people, in their minds, don’t provide value, don’t give the scent of success, don’t really matter.

So, people are notified they are, in most cases, laid off. Do not be fooled. “Laid off” is a polite way of telling someone they’re fired. Semantics don’t matter when someone has just lost their position in an organization.

During COVID-19, these terminations have hit hard in just about every sector of society, even the areas, such as higher education and health care systems, where employment has been virtually bullet-proof, no matter what else is going on in the economy.

It has been especially disheartening to see how many of these terminations have taken place. Mass numbers of employees are invited to a Zoom meeting where they’re told, usually via a recorded video, that they no longer have a job. This is because the people in leadership positions in these organizations don’t have the guts to talk to each one personally and give them the bad news. Shame on them.

But is letting people go really the way to survive in a bad economy? Are people unnecessary? Is it stuff that really matters the most? Are all of these organizations wrong?

Yes, in fact, many of these organizations are wrong. People are any organization’s most valuable resource. Granted, there will be some dead weight (people who are just showing up and people are who aren’t a good fit anywhere in the organization), but it’s minimal, and most of that has already been culled.

The stuff these organizations are trying to hold on to isn’t any good without people. Stuff doesn’t have the capacity to learn and to develop. Stuff doesn’t have knowledge. Stuff doesn’t have skills. And stuff is no good without the resources – people – who have these.

When people are fired through whatever means organizations let them go, knowledge and skills walk out the door. Sometimes it’s years of knowledge and a plethora of skills that will never be replaced, no matter how many people these organizations might hire in the future.

Terminating people terminates the hearts and souls of organizations. And it isn’t necessary in most cases. There’s a different way, but it means change.

This revolutionary change that needed to be made was evident early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizations are operating on outdated models. They keep doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. That, BTW, is the definition of insanity.

Brick and mortar, in most organizational settings, has been outdated for at least 15 years. Wisely using technology is the most effective and efficient way for most organizations to have any hope of survival (and of retaining their most valuable resources).

Access must be given to everyone, either at reasonable pricing for those who can afford to pay for it or through grants provided by the tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon (they have more money than anyone else in the United States, and, yet, with regard to equal access to the benefits of technology for every American, they are the stingiest with the billions and billions of dollars they have).

Getting rid of brick and mortar and using technology to pursue and achieve a common goal should be the revolutionary change that many organizations should make.

Everything that can be done in a brick and mortar setting can be done using technology. It’s much more interactive, and it makes people use their time more wisely and productively (less superfluous meetings where a bunch of people sit around for an hour or two and getting nothing accomplished), which, in turn, makes organizations more productive…and more successful.

Getting rid of brick and mortar in exchange for technology also has some amazing benefits.

The Earth benefits from less brick and mortar. It was amazing to see how quickly the air became cleaner over major urban areas during the initial COVID-19 restrictions.

Tearing down the buildings and turning them into green spaces with walking paths and lush vegetation not only provides city dwellers with a place to rejuvenate, but it provides more of the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange that we humans require to live.

People benefit from less brick and mortar. Many people spend hours of time and money traveling for organizations, whether it’s to and from the organizations each day or it’s for the organizations.

This is time and money that is wasted with nothing to show for it. For some people, their daily commutes might be as long as two or three hours in the morning and two or three hours in the evening, because of either the way the transportation system and organizational hours are set up, or because America’s 1950’s highways simply can’t accommodate the 21st century’s traffic.

Without all the traveling time and money spent doing it, people don’t feel like all they do is work, with little to show for it. By using technology, they have a better work/life balance and they’re able to take better care of their families and themselves.

When people take better care of themselves and their families, they have better health, and that reduces healthcare visits and insurance costs (both for the organizations and for their people).

Most of all, without brick and mortar, people are going to be happier. For all the naysayers (who, by the way, are espousing the Western idea that extraversion is the key to success, which translates into the idea that everybody needs to be physically together in the same space for anything good to happen) of technology, the underlying concerns are a bit darker.

The naysayers don’t realize this because we’ve been conditioned to think about things in certain ways and, if you do that long enough and it’s reinforced often enough, then it becomes entrenched and written in stone.

The concerns about giving up brick and mortar in favor of technology revolve around control. In a sense, many organizations see their people as little kids who don’t have any sense on their own, can’t do anything by themselves, and will totally go off the rails if someone’s not watching them all the time.

That’s how people in organizations are treated. No one is doing this maliciously or even consciously. It’s just the entrenched system of thinking.

In the 1990’s there was a lot of organizational lingo about “empowering people.” They didn’t mean it in any real sense. The need to control and keep close tabs on people never left, and that is what is challenged when brick and mortar is replaced by technology.

Control is a funny thing. The more you try to hold on to it, the more afraid you become that you’re going to lose it.

For real organizational change, everyone must be treated as an adult and an equal. Everyone is a vital part of the team and everybody’s contribution matters. These people are the people who were chosen out of a lot of possible options. If we can’t trust and believe that, then the fault lies with those who do the choosing.

Read that paragraph again. Let it sink in. Think about it today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the rest of your life.

Then ask yourself, “How am I doing in this and what am I going to do to change?”


  1. […] many of the employers who are so adamantly opposed to telecommuting in positions where it absolutely…, there is a sense that if they don’t have eyeballs on us regularly, then we can’t be […]


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