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Three people you need to fire

If the success of Apple bears any relevance to the transportation industry it’s this: companies that place a premium on innovation succeed.


If the success of Apple bears any relevance to the transportation industry it’s this: companies that place a premium on innovation succeed.

For-hire trucking is an industry of more than 10,000 carriers each needing to differentiate itself in a very crowded marketplace. At the same time, research shows shippers are besieged by growing supply chain complexity and rising customer demands.

Clearly, trucking companies who come to market with the kind of innovative transportation offerings shippers need, stand to benefit.

But innovation doesn’t just happen; it’s created by people. In the hands of the right people it flowers; in the hands of the wrong people it withers.

This column is about the latter. It is about the people you need to fire if you want to spark innovation in your company and it’s inspired by the writings of G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Viton, authors of Free the Idea Monkey.

There are three types of people in your company you need to fire immediately, according to Maddock and Viton. Hanging onto them just sucks the energy out of your company.

First is the type of person Maddock and Viton, refer to as “the victim.” They’re the ones always complaining, feeling the company is out to screw them, fighting the latest technology, company strategy, whatever. Victims don’t see problems as challenges to overcome; they see problems as opportunities to complain. And they sure love to complain. Make your company happier and more innovative; get rid of “the victims.”

The second type of person you don’t want on your team is “the non-believer.” The difference between the winning team that makes industry-changing innovation happen and the losing one that comes up short is a lack of willpower, Maddock and Viton argue. Said differently, the winners really believed they could do it, while the losers doubted it was possible.

Effective leaders find and promote believers within their organizations. They also understand the cancerous effect that non-believers have on a team and cut them out of the organization quickly and without regret.

The last type of person you need to throw out of your company is “the know-it-all.” These may be very smart folks who somewhere along the way decided to use their knowledge to block change rather than lead it; to focus their energies explaining why things are impossible rather than possible.  Maddock and Viton argue that the best innovators are learners, not knowers.

The same can be said about innovative cultures; they are learning cultures. In order to innovate, employees must be encouraged to go beyond their comfort zone; they must not be afraid to fail and learn from their mistakes. Know-it-alls, in part because their experience demands respect, block this from happening.

The staff at innovative companies, such as Apple, believe they are part of something big. That’s the kind of employees you need in your company. The rest should be shown the door.


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