Most of Your Employees Are Goofing Off


According to Curtis Coffman, author of the best-selling business book “First, Break All the Rules”, the best employees are the newbies, the fresh young things who haven’t yet had the time to become spoiled. The longer employees are with a company, claims Coffman, the worse they become. The numbers are alarming.

A Gallup poll based on surveys of 1,000 to 1,200 employees over a 2-1/2 year period found that 71% are “not engaged” in their work — and 17% of these slackers are “actively disengaged,” as Coffman puts it. What does “actively disengaged” mean? “They are trying to sabotage your company,” he says. “To drive customers from you.”

Coffman’s recommendation: Fire them. This is also the recommendation of former GE chairman Jack Welch in his best-selling book “Straight From the Gut”. If you fire the bottom 10% of your workforce every year for a few years, says Welch, you will pretty quickly get rid of all the bad apples. After that, you will just have to do a maintenance firing every so often. That’s not the only way to handle the “bad-apple” problem.

McDonald’s, for example, depends on attrition (see “Word to the Wise,” below). They don’t have to fire their employees, because they usually quit, get arrested, or simply forget for whom they are working. Neither one of these approaches is very appealing. So . . . what’s a manager to do?

I’ve told you what I do: I make sure that my working team never gets bigger than seven or eight people. By doing that — and it’s not always easy — it’s not hard to figure out who’s working and who’s slacking. When someone isn’t working, I find him another job. If he can’t do the other job well, I find him another manager. If that manager wants to give him back, I say “no.”

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]