Everyone is Expendable, Nobody is Irreplaceable… NOBODY!

Everyone is Expendable, Nobody is Irreplaceable… NOBODY!

Being successful requires that you become a valuable asset to those you serve. Without value you are just a number. Rising to the top requires passing those who provide something less of value in their performance. Outperforming your competition through efficiencies, exceptional service and attitude brings value. It’s not a rat race its a race to build value. Every economy and company purges the weak and under performing. It’s a fact of life. Demonstrating value is the best defense against every industries natural “CULL”. Every operator, employee and company owner must focus on creating value for the sake of their own survival. Taking pride in our work, doing it better than those around us, bringing value to our employer is one of life’s greatest joys and… necessities.

If we focus on providing value in everything we do our assumption may be we become irreplaceable. We think we can perpetually avoid the natural CULL. It’s a great philosophy to have, one that provides the highest probability of success. The only problem is… its only an assumption. It doesn’t work 100% of the time. We usually don’t see the whole picture of how our performance fits into the entire organization, or how our organization fits into the industry, or how our industry fits into the economy. We can minimize risk but never eliminate it entirely. We can maximize our value but never guarantee our positions and future.

Many years ago I found myself in a situation where our entire company was dependent on one person, or at least I thought so. Though the individual was very good at what they did, they understood they were irreplaceable. Believing this, they used their storage of “value” in the company to leverage an extreme demand. It was one of the most difficult situations I was ever put into. The high value person left and I was distraught… for about 90 minutes. To my surprise and humble delight, I found out that all the other employees banded together to take up the slack. A group that otherwise rarely showed themselves as independent and inspired found themselves leading a great change in the company. The exit of a critical person actually became the catalyst to making our company very much stronger. It demonstrated that a super high valued person is still vulnerable to replacement. I would never had guessed that. The only way I found that out was by seeing the affect it had on the remaining employees. Unknown to me, the high performer held back the whole team. Now, certainly this doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s definitely possible. I learned everyone is replaceable.

Every employee is expendable, every carrier is expendable, and even every customer is expendable. This is the foundation of all business. Knowing this we must remain humble, focused and determined to produce value without excessive demands. We are here to serve our customers efficiently, with a standard of performance that produces value and realistic profit without abuse. It’s sometimes not easy to do.

When arrogance and selfishness threatens any organization it must be cut off. The untrained can be taught to bring value, but a bad attitude (even if they are high performers) will bring nothing but abuse. They must be shown the door.

After nearly three decades in business I have come to the belief that even I am expendable. I know my attitude towards my employees and customers are critical to the long term success of the company. Even if my value is exceptional I am still expendable, even as President and owner I can be replaced. Competitors are designed for replacing. I can never even take my value for granted.

Every leader, employee or company, no matter how talented or valued can be replaced. That fact keeps the industry competitive and focused. It’s what keeps our companies alive, growing and prosperous.

Robert Scheper

Robert D Scheper has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is the author of two books, “Making Your Miles Count: Taxes, Taxes, Taxes” and "Making Your Miles Count: Choosing a Trucking Company".

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