Government Is Like A Bad Employee You Can’t Fire

November 20, 2010   |  

I was thinking about this analogy: imagine that you had an employee who you hired for your business. Let’s call him Barry. Barry interviewed well, and all of his references checked out. So you hired him and gave him a project to do.

He screws up that project. So you figure, well, maybe that particular project may not have played to his strengths, so you are compassionate and are willing to give him another chance, so you find another project for him which is simpler and give it to him. He does that one, and screws it up as well, just not as much. You keep giving Barry new projects to complete, but he screws them all up, every time. Who is more at fault, Barry or you, since you keep giving him projects and expect him to do better next time, when he has pretty much proven that he cant.

Trouble is, due to some arcane union rules, you can’t fire him. So what do you do? You give almost all of your projects to your other employees who can get the job done, but since you are stuck with him, you give him something non-critical to do in order to keep him busy, and try to reduce the effect he has on your business.

Problem is, he is mouthy and pushy and still gets into every other project all of your other employees are working on, making suggestions here, breaking into meetings there, going onto your network and editing everyone else’s presentations etc. Basically making a nuisance of himself, butting into other employees projects and demotivating your entire workforce.

Even though you are the boss, you can’t fire him. Maybe its not a union rule, but maybe he is the son of the biggest shareholder or something. Either way, you can’t get rid of him and he spends all of his time trying to “help” you (according to his limited intellect), when he is literally so useless he hinders you.

Sound familiar? There’s not really much you can do about someone like that. If you can’t fire him, then you try to keep him busy with as many useless make work projects, or non-critical things. You certainly don’t give him anything hugely important to do (like health care or helping an economy run) since he simply does not have the capability to do anything well.

Your other employees are, of course, private businesses, who compete for projects amongst themselves. They know that they have to do well in order to survive, its life or death for them so they do the best possible job.

So think about it: who would you rather have doing any new project that comes along: the super competent team which will fall over each other trying to do the best job possible, or Barry, who means well, but can’t do anything right?

I know the liberal answer to that question: keep giving Barry projects until he finds something he can excel at. Feel sorry for Barry. But you have a business to run. You can’t afford to keep Barry on the payroll forever. He is having a real negative effect on your overall business. Unless you fire Barry, no matter the repercussions, your business will fail if he stays on and does what he has been doing. And if your business fails, then all of your employees are out of a job. As are you.

I think we all fired Barry on election day, didn’t we?

Coming up next: Barry’s “Transition Period”

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