Who is a non-performer?

May 14th, 2009

Nowadays, whenever companies sack their employees, the standard line is … “their performance was not in line with our parameters.” Or, something similar. While it may be true in some cases, that argument looks more than a bit stretched in most.

Let’s do a reality check. Not so long so, industry bodies were claiming that there’s still dearth of good talent. With companies in an expansion mode, hiring was frenzied. Head hunters would call executives aggressively. And in the event that a particular executive was uninterested, pat would be the reply, “Would any of your friends be interested?”

But things have turned for the worse. With recession plaguing the entire world, the demand for talent is no longer so great. In fact, companies need to cut flab.

And all that excess capacities built up in anticipation of future growth need to be pruned. So, quite a few employees have had to take the bitter ‘layoff’ pill.

But by branding the ‘laid-off’ employees as the worst performers is grossly unfair. If the company’s plans have gone haywire, it is not the employee’s fault. Instead of admitting this, many are harping about non-performance, stricter parameters and so on…

The fact being that no management wants to admit that their ambitious plans have gone wrong and in many cases, over-aggression has caused them grief.

Take the example of real estate companies – huge land banks were built by buying at astronomical prices. And that too in the latter half of 2007-08, when it was well known that the subprime crisis is looming large over the world.

Now that many of these projects are under hold indefinitely, can the employee who is being thrown out be called a non-performer?

In fact, the word ‘non-performance’ has almost become a joke. Sample this: Recently, when the two senior employees (CEO, COO types) left an organisation, a mail was sent to the corporate communications enquiring about the reason. The response was something like this… ‘individuals whose performance were not in line with the company’s parameters quit’.

It isn’t funny…

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