Fire those who are not excelling

So I read a lot of content on the web in my spare time and the title of this topic is a phrase I hear quite a lot on the web and I would just like to give my opinions on the above phrase and why this is not a good idea.

Ok so what is meant by “excelling”, well the definition of “excelling” is as follows …

shine, be very good, be excellent, be brilliant, be outstanding, be skilful, be talented, be proficient, be expert, be pre-eminent, reign supreme, wear the crown, stand out, be the best, be unrivalled, be unparalleled, be unequalled, be without equal, be second to none, be unsurpassed, surpass, outdo, outshine, outclass, outstrip, beat, beat hollow, top, cap, transcend, be better than, be superior to, go one better than, better, pass, eclipse, overshadow, put in the shade, put to shame

Firstly I can see in the list “be very good” so if I want to not get fired I have to “be very good”. My critique on this is “be very good” by whose and what standard? There is no standard on what is meant by “be very good”. Now you might say “well a standard can be defined and we can use that standard to measure the employee against”.

Yes this is what any reasonable person might think however I generally find that the people who are using and passing the phrase “Fire those who are not excelling” do not actually do this in practice. The “be very good” in practice merely becomes to “be very good” in the bosses or managers opinion. So to be fired for not excelling is to be fired based on the opinion of some boss or manager and very rarely is there any real evidence or standard to back this up.

The second word that stands out in the list is “go one better than”. Ok so to not get fired I have to “go one better than”. Now who do I have to go one better than? With time to think you may say the competition, however in practice with the people who have this sort of mindset the competition is not some far away company but your actual coworkers. This creates a climate of one-up-man-ship, if employee A is expected to “go one better than” employee B and employee B is expected to “go one better than” employee A how can that ever be resolved? It creates a climate of unhealthy and somewhat vicious competition among co-workers with each employee seeking to gain the better position from which they can rule.

Which brings me to the third word that stands out in the list … “beat”. Now what I am about to say is merely a matter of opinion and whether you see the connection or not is entirely up to you. Would it not make sense that an employee that is trying his hardest to “be very good” and “go one better than” his coworkers, in a climate of hostile competition and one-up-man-ship is actually trying to “beat” his coworkers. Yes in this instance I do not mean “beat” in friendly terms either I mean physical violence. Is this not the underlying desire this employee has? Is it too far a stretch of the imagination to see the connection? Is it too far a stretch that the person who desires to “go one better than” is quick to resort to fisty cuffs to enable them to actually do that?

One opinion could be that the coworker beat somebody up or punched someone because he was under a lot of stress at the time due to the climate of the workplace. One opinion could be that the desire was there already and the coworker who plays the game of one-up-man-ship was predetermined to be physically violent anyway.

So in my opinion if a company was to “Fire those who are not excelling” what does that leave the company with? A bunch of employees who are physically violent at heart and have no desire to see the company succeed but merely wish to “one up” their coworkers.

Please note that none of the above is an excuse for employee who is genuinely not getting his / her workload done. Each employee should be productive but not in the way described above. Each employee should be responsible for his / her own productive effort but should not have the desire to create unhealthy competition among coworkers. If all an employee can do is compare himself to other coworkers and is viciously competitive with coworkers whilst showing no genuine productivity then maybe that is the employee who needs to be re-educated.

I think the main point I am trying to make is that there is difference between an employee who is genuinely productive and an employee who always seems to be trying to “excel” in a viciously competitive way that has nothing to do with his / her genuine productive output.

Please note that there is also a difference between an employee who actually has the desire to “beat”, “go one better than” etc and an employee who is merely peddling the latest buzzwords because he / she thought they sounded cool without actually having that desire at all.

So that concludes my opinion on what I think all of all this “excelling” non-sense.