If Shakespeare Wrote About Business Today

You may not remember Dick the Butcher. He was a rather forgettable character in William Shakespeare’s play, Henry VI, Part II. The chances are good, however, that you remember Dick’s famous line: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

Henry VI addresses England’s loss of its territories to the French and, most important, the personal jealousies that tor the political system apart. Dick, a follower of the anarchist character Jack Cade, believes that lawyers played an active role in keeping the common people down.

So what would Shakespeare’s character say today if he were to write about the poor performance and caustic environment that plagues many organizations and keeps workers from being productive?

My guess is that play would produce a line that goes something like this: “The first thing we do, let’s fire all the bad managers.”

Your organization is only as good as the talent, productivity, and engagement of your people. And, those critical contributors to success are directly related to the quality of your managers.

Bad managers:

    * Make lousy hiring decisions
    * Leave new hires alone to learn how the organization works on their own, or worse, to be influenced by their disgruntled co-workers who are only too happy to show them how things “really work around here.”
    * Invest no time or resources in developing people so that they can meet the demands of a competitive marketplace.
    * Create a toxic environment that causes your best people to run to your competitors for a new opportunity.
    * Allow your worst performing employees to continually frustrate their co-workers because they lack the courage to confront them.

Your company’s results will not improve until the quality of your managers improves. The marginal managers are worth developing. The replacement and disruption costs are significant, and the investment will pay long-term dividends.

But, the long-term truly bad managers need to go. At best, they are unlikely to become anything more than marginal performers even with intentional development. At worst, they will morph into undercover leeches on productivity, morale, and results.

Firing your bad managers has another important impact: it sends a clear compelling message to everyone that you value the environment in which people work as well as the importance of being a great performer.

Have a conversation that let’s your bad managers know that they have one last opportunity to turn it around, and then follow the advice that Shakespeare would give if he wrote about business today. Fire all of the bad managers. Just make sure that you avoid all of the bad manager mistakes when you replace them.

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