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Bill Crawford's Blog

Give the Hardest Job to Who??

I was teaching a class in Organizational Behavior the other evening and enjoying a lively discussion on how to manage "difficult" personalities. The class was fairly small - and quite lively with a lot of students giving some very good thought to the topic at hand.

When talking about managing a lazy person, one of the students, a professional gentleman with over twenty years of management experience made this comment, "Always give the hardest job to the laziest person. They'll find the quickest was to do it."

This was met with a lot of laughter - and then a lot of "Aha's" There is some real wisdom in that thought!

Driving home after class I recall that Jerry Fleming, a legendary figure in our industry, had said something to that end some years back.

(Jerry, who passed away just over a year ago, was profiled in an article in the Natural Foods Merchandiser in September of 2007. You can read that article here -

We were planning a transition, from one system and way of doing things to a new one. Those things can be tough because there are so many contingencies to plan for. We had gone through "Plans A to P" - and the group was fading. (Actually, we had faded around Plan G!) Jerry kept pushing - "What do you did if....." "What do you do when......" "Why are we doing......." "Why aren't we considering......." He intended for us to keep after things up to and including Plan Z!

Noting our declining lack of productivity, he had us take a break, get some refreshments and clear our heads.

When we resumed, he said something to this effect: We don't work this hard because we like hard work. We work this hard because we are lazy. If we do all this work up front, it is a whole lot easier later on.

Very valid point - it is a lot less work to put in extra effort in the planning, foundation laying and building than it is to take short cuts and have to deal with repairs and remodels.

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