These are slowdown times, and both my driver and my cook think I’m the most atrocious employer that could ever have been, recession or no recession. Their opinion does not matter to me though, as I think that both of them are crooks and the grubbiest liabilities acquired generations ago by my dad and forced down my throat without my consent. I was mulling over how to use the slowdown as an excuse to get rid of the tormenting two, till one day, I noticed a non-descript book left on my study table by my father, with a deliberate note to a chapter titled ‘A story about the 2Cs and 2Ps’. Curious, I opened the chapter... and that is where my story begins.
Charles Coffin had a strange name and a stranger background. For more than twenty long years, working in his uncle’s shoe company with irascible employees – much similar to my own – Coffin mastered the art of bringing out the best in his worst employees. In 1883, he financed a struggling electrician’s company with his savings, and helped convert Thomson-Houston Electric Company into a mammoth enterprise. Jim Collins writes that Coffin “created a system of genius that did not depend on him – he created the idea of systematic management development.” Coffin practiced communication as a religion to transform mediocre performing employees into fantastically valuable ones. My 2C hero Charles Coffin is now considered by Fortune as ‘The Greatest CEO Of All Times’! He was the first President of General Electric! Let me move on to Paul Pierce (or 2Ps) now. On a fatal night in September 2000, Pierce, a brilliant 23-year-old Boston basketball player (drafted to the NBA bench), was repeatedly stabbed by hoodlums. Doctors didn’t believe that the man will pull through, but he did. Only thing, Pierce was crippled of nearly all faculties. Eight years later, lowly ranked Boston Celtics (who had never won the NBA championship in 22 years), played the NBA Finals against the supreme Los Angeles Lakers (the second highest winners ever in NBA history, featuring the legendary Kobe Bryant and coach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). The game ends with shocked silence. Boston Celtics have thrashed LA Lakers by 131-92, the largest margin ever in a championship game. The captain of Boston Celtics is an unknown Paul Pierce, who is also named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals. And all because of the one value he believed in, which electrifyingly converted his non-believing team mates into fanatical followers, outstanding team players and exceptional achievers... the value of communication!
Effective leaders communicate thoroughly, exhaustively and most regularly to their employees to retain them during slowdown. Ineffective ones, don’t! BCG’s report Creating People Advantage In Times Of Crisis says that ‘clear communication’ during slowdown is the trademark of an outstanding leader. Business Week’s 2008 report Recession Strategy documents that “communication is the key” to retain employees. Clearly, if there’s one strategy you need to implement authoritatively to get the bedazzling best out of your employees, it’s putting into place a highly structured process of communication – a fact that I seemed to have lost touch with completely. “So what are you going to do?” my wife asked me with a sarcastic snigger after hearing the story. My moment of truth had arrived. It was now or never. I decided to swallow my pride and to finally ‘communicate’ with the two creeps, I called my ‘employees’. And I was pretty straightforward too. I called them both to my room and passionately asked them to leave their jobs... with immediate effect!
P.S.: All this happened a fortnight ago. Just for information, my dad called them both back. They’re still working for us and strangely, now even my parents don’t seem to be communicating with me... Geez, I need a new life!