A Guide to Dysfunctional Management and the Evil Workplace
April 26th, 2012 by William

Best of the Best

In my book I talk about the obsession that many management teams have with chasing the all elusive ‘best-of-the-best’ employee. Many organizations are on a constant quest to “upgrade” their organization in this manner. They think that if they only had the crème de la crème all their visions and values and financial goals would miraculously become reality.

They also believe that this illusive team of A-players would be more proactive, efficient and effective. See my book Puttin’ Cologne on the Rickshaw for my take on the “proactive” epidemic.

In his April 17th 2012 Financial Times article, “Only a Privileged Few Work with Top Talent,” Philip Delves Broughton points out; “Everyone loves to recite the mantras of excellence, like the one about A-players hiring A-players and B-players hiring C-players. The reality is that A-players are a limited resource, while Bs and Cs are what are usually available and affordable.” They key here is “affordability,” and in my book I talk about the fact that most organizations are not prepared to pay for the best-of-the-best anyway.

What’s interesting is that these very management teams are themselves only average yet they prop themselves up by brainwashing themselves with this nonsense. Pontificating the need to only hire the “best-of-the-best” helps convince themselves that they too are A-players hiring A-players.

When you think about it, this is very telling of the way an organization is managed and by how the employees are treated. Most organizations don’t know how to treat their average employees let alone the best-of-the-best. They fact is that most organizations are loaded with average workers and that’s what management has to work with.

As Broughton points out; “…managers spend more time managing mediocrity than they do searching for excellence. Their day-to-day work is more like shoving a lumpy mattress up a narrow staircase.”

It’s ironic in a way. Most organizations become so fixated on the belief that the best-of-the-best employees all must work somewhere else and as such they must constantly be searching to hire these “rock stars” into their organization. The pity is they never realize that the employees they already have can be the best-of-the-best if only management were to motivate them through trust and shared accountability versus the typical command and control mentality.

If you do hire the best-of-the-best your business or organization better be the best-of-the-best cultural environment or all you’re doing is hiring another employee who’ll become disillusioned and disgruntled in a week, a month or a year, and you’ll be then giving him a bad performance review, all the while saying that you want to hire the best-of-the-best.

In the book Rework, Jason Fried and David Hansson drive home this point, “Instead of thinking about how you can land a room full of rock-stars, think about the room instead. We’re all capable of bad, average and great work. The environment has a lot more to do with great work than most people realize…there’s a ton of untapped potential trapped under lame policies, poor direction, and stifling bureaucracies. Cut the crap and you’ll find that people are waiting to do great work.”



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