“Yes, but we can’t afford to fire this person, right now. If we did, we would lose everything they know about our system. I know their performance is unacceptable, but we would be lost without the things they know about our processes, our machines, the tolerances, the setups.”
“So, where does that leave you,” I asked.
“Between a rock and a hard place. We can’t even let this person find out that we are recruiting for his replacement. He might quit.”
In the beginning, most companies organize the work around people and their abilities. As the company grows, an inevitable transition must take place. At some point, we have to organize the people around the work.
This looks like a people problem. This is a structural problem.
If you think your organization is people dependent, where work is organized around the people we have, what steps would it take to transform into a system dependent organization? It starts with the simple documentation of processes and roles. That’s the first step to prevent becoming hostage to an underperformer.