Dead Horse in the Modern era

This is a very common theory and was proposed in the war days about the dead horse. The best strategy when you discover a horse is dead, is to dismount and move ahead. There is no way you can pull the weight around and win the war !!! This is common sense and when we read it in the war situation this makes complete sense. In the modern era, the strategies and techniques of corporate culture thinks otherwise and there are a number of things that they try to enforce or workaround.

We are not trying to stereotype the companies in general nor are trying to critique the HR practices. We are also not trying to see what the internal politics or like’s of the management are. I am just calling out some of the strange behaviors I have seen organizations make and thought would make a fun read for my readers :).

My top 10 hated techniques:

  1. If you are not able to manage an employee because of his command, try to get an even more assertive manager to deal with him and squeeze the heck out till he quits. Management always wants it their way, not your way else it will be highway !!!
  2. Whenever you see a sinking ship, blame the management and hire a new guy to take over, ultimately to die sooner. A step before this is to threaten to terminate the top management which you already have in mind via the board (remember the Spiderman movie :))
  3. Whenever there is a sinking ship, find how you can get someone from outside to study the situation and make a rosy (not-so-bad) situation. Understand, analysts are those who get paid heavily so that you can hear what you wanted. Worst are the cases of sending others to trainings and different divisions to study and come back to implement (you forget the environment and people that make it work).
  4. If a manager is sub-standard and doesn’t get along well with management, he tends to hire folks who overall bring the standard of the team down.
  5. When you see you are not able to manage with your own people get work done, strategies are to get bunch of contractors to do the same job thinking it will lower the overheads. One thing is for sure, you have increased your headache – because no one will be competent enough to maintain it later.
  6. When overall productivity and efficiency is down, management tends to get into training mode to improve the performance of the overall team. Though trainings are required, what the team needs more is sense of trust and purpose.
  7. If the non-performer is the favorite then the performance review is done using yardstick reference of that employee. Sometimes the management tends to see the smallest contributions as achievements and oversee the largest impact as work.
  8. Promoting incompetence’s up the chain, which in-turn will recruit incompetent people. This is the downhill for the organization as a whole.
  9. In order to get operational efficiency people revoke the small benefits (can range from reduced travel benefits, no free lunch, no team outing, no internet claims etc) thinking it will improve the profitability. Trust me, in the long run it will only hamper creativity and is demoralizing when such things happen.
  10. Identifying the non-performer and making an easy exit path without providing an genuine opportunity to show the talent. In the HR world called as desired attrition and not giving any hike to automatically demotivate them.

I am sure there are many more avatars of the modern era dead horse philosophy, I am sure you will be able to relate to few of the things I am mentioning above. Do tell me if you have seen any of the above characteristics in your life?

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  1. Thank you, I have recently been looking for info about this topic for a long time and yours
    is the best I have found out so far. But,
    what concerning the bottom line? Are you positive in regards to the source?

  2. I can relate 8, 9 and 10. Especially, I saw the consequences of Promoting incompetence’s. They just not spoil the product, they can break the team bonding.

  3. I can relate #3, #4 and #6 to #9.

    I wish this post and many other such posts crawled by Google and other search engines, and be ranked higher in search results. It will definitely make everyone’s life easy. As what your mind doesn’t know eye can’t see.

    Thanks for sharing your observations!

  4. Excellent one Vinod…!!!

    Really valid scenarios and can be see most of the times in the industry.

    On #3, I have seen situations where the actual project teams works so hard to deliver the solutions, put extra hours to cover other’s inefficiencies, paying for the mistakes of most responsible people higher up the ladder, and so on. And the management, instead of analyzing the situation and listening to the concerns raised by the team, they bring in people from other teams for short term (couple of weeks), who will end up claiming they have done something great (they merely give some gyaan and waste everyone’s time by setting up unwanted meetings) and move out, taking the credit from top management. However, the project team continues to suffer without even a slight improvement and instead gets de-motivated and humiliated due to people coming from outside, giving gyaan, and taking credit. In this entire exercise, the real people working on the project are showcased as dumb and all their effort goes under the drain!

    • That is the whole point, getting people from outside who miss the context and are there as an expert to find faults and the *super hero* to correct most of the times backfires IMHO. Thanks for dropping a line Datta.