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The test for uselessness

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • September 27, 2011

Some jobs are easy to measure. Some jobs are difficult. That’s how life is. Big corporations spend millions of Rands and hours trying to create measurables to determine whether their people are doing their jobs effectively.


Why? Because big companies have too many people. Too many people means the boss can’t know everyone, which in turn gives perfect cover for uselessness.


Anyone who has worked in a big company knows this as an ineffable truth.


So are we all doomed to spending hours defining job roles and then more hours following up on these measures? I think not.


First, do not frivolously employ people. You may think it’s easy to fire people, but its not. And it’s expensive. AND it’s draining. Sociopath’s aside, no one likes firing people. Personally, I do not hire without a personal reference. And I make sure the referrer knows I’ll be knocking on their door if the referee is an oxygen-thief.


Second, keep staff numbers down. More people means more admin and politics and opportunity for useless people to hide.


Third, follow your gut. Your instincts will almost always give you the right answer.


Lastly, watch out for the words, “What value does Johnny add?” If you ever find yourself asking that question, the game is up. Great people always add value, and it’s obvious to everyone that they will be missed (even if you don’t know what they do every minute of the day.)