The Guardian described Sachin Tendulkar, now going through one of the leanest patches of his career as amply illustrated by Sandipan Deb, as undroppable—not because it doesn’t make sense to drop him, but no one is brave enough to do so in country that equates him with God (and indeed, there were times, many of them, when willow in hand, he appeared descended from some sporting Valhalla).
I’ve heard opinions that suggest that the great man should be allowed to choose when he wants to go, and I can’t help but think about the corporate parallels I have heard (yes, Constant Reader, this is unfortunately not a piece on cricket, but on management).
Most companies, even self-professed hard-nosed ones, are usually very reluctant to fire employees who were once at the top of their game, but have since slipped. “He’s served us well in the past, and we can’t just ask him to go,” is the usual argument proffered. One solution is to find a sinecure, which, despite being a waste of money, can be condoned. Another is promoting the person to a higher level of management, which is unforgivable.
In public-facing roles and in companies with public-facing businesses, such individuals may have also acquired an individual brand image of sorts (which itself should set the alarm bells ringing because this is rarely achieved without some effort on part of the employee concerned), and then, arguments in favour of retaining these employees change. “What will people say?” is one. “His image is too strongly associated with the image of the company,” is another.
None of these arguments are valid ones.
I am not suggesting people should not be rewarded or recognized for their contribution to the company. That’s what generous bonuses and handsome severance packages are for. If they drive a company car, let them keep it—even if it is Mercedes. If they live in company-owned housing, transfer it in their names—even if it is a flat on Napean Sea Road, Lavelle Road or Jor Bagh. Throw a party. Throw in a club membership. But throw them out.
Do not allow them to stay in their current roles at the cost of the company. Apart from affecting the company’s performance, this also sends a wrong message down the line. As any halfway decent HR manager knows, no one is indispensable, and people who are past their prime will rarely leave on their own just because they know it is time to go.