How to Kill Your Personal Credibility

For a while I worked for a company that had a stupid process

Every year we would undertake a “forced distribution” exercise. We would hold a beauty parade for our employees, line them up from most capable to least capable and then give the bottom 10% the sack

Each November we went through hours and hours of feedback gathering, review writing and “cross calibration” sessions; trying to evaluate who was talented and who wasn’t, protecting our own teams, lambasting everybody else’s

Everybody (and I do mean everybody) hated the process. It did precisely nothing for employee engagement, it was a mass exercise in upsetting people. You can imagine the fun and games it caused. The whole organisation stopped for a month

However, it was dictated from a long, long, long way up on high and there was precisely no getting around it

We all have stupid process

Everywhere has stupid processes. If you put your mind to it I bet you can think of at least half a dozen crazy pointless rules and systems where you work

The question isn’t “Is it a stupid process?” The question is this:

How do you show up when discussing the stupid process with your staff members? Do you….

  1. Justify it to the hilt, toe the company line and play it politically correctly?
  2. Sit and bitch and moan to everybody about it?
  3. Acknowledge that it is stupid, admit there is nothing you can do about it, and get on with something more worthwhile?

And before you answer, ask yourself this. If I was asking your boss, which answer would give him the most credibility?

Don’t even try to convince people everything is fabulous when it isn’t

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Beauty Contest

Image by hartman045

Read another opinion


  1. Hello James
    You make a good point. Though I would argue that the ‘stupidity’ lies in the policy articulted by the Tops rather than the process. A stupid policy is a stupid policy even if it is supported by the best process.

    The question that interests me is this one: who allows these stupid policies to live? Yes, I know that the Tops formulate the policy. That is not my question. My question is who allows these policies to see and flower thus destroying morale, distracting focus from what matter to that which does not matter, and in the process use up value ‘capital’ – social, economic?

    If we really look at that question and face it courageously the answer is I do. Yes, I am responsible for that stupid policy! How? If I pointed out it is as stupid policy and chose not to implement and follow it then I would set an example to others and thus embolden then, allow them to act courageously. And if they chose not to do so then I can quit that job and face the consequences. If I am not willing to do that then I can simply go along with the stupid policy. And if I do do that then I give up my right to complain and whine about it .

    What say you?


    • James Lawther says:

      Totally agree, we all have a choice.

      In this instance the choice was to live with it or leave

      Plenty of us left

      But it wasn’t easy as the rest of the job was great

      Thanks for your comment


  2. Hi James,
    I heard about this policy operating withing GE at the time of Jack Welch. When I first heard about it it made me very nervous. I can understand the pure performance and numbers element of it. However, we are not robots and we are not purely rational. That’s why it always made me nervous about the impact that it would have on morale and productivity.

    There must be and are better ways of managing non-performance rather than an arbitrary 10% pruning every year.


Speak Your Mind