Whether it is you or someone you work with, its unmistakable when one has reached the “Irreplaceable” status. The business simply cannot function without their input whether it be their corporate decision-making, managerial skill, technical skills, or in the most gifted cases all three and much more. Regardless of the type of input, this places the business in a precarious position. It is fortunate to have such a valuable person on the team but the price is the instability of the organization due to over-dependence. Suppose that they are to leave the company for greener pastures or simply due to illness, the world will continue to turn but the business will be in disarray. Businesses should not shy away from hiring exceptionally talented people but must take precautions against unfortunate circumstances.
Plan A should simply be to avoid this scenario however possible. Optimally one should hire a diverse and talented pool of employees who as a team can sufficiently handle the wide array of tasks needed to keep the company functioning. Or at least train your pre-existing employees bringing them to a sufficient level of competency, if possible, if not then reevaluate your hiring practices. No matter how skillful a single individual is their value can likely be matched by a team of perhaps less skilled but still competent individuals. It is simply a matter of finding or creating such a team.
Perhaps Plan A is out of the question. The lone individual has already reached Irreplaceable status and now the business hinges on their presence. This may have happened due to the company being in a strategic battle against opposing entities with the only hope resting on the Irreplaceable One. It may also be because of the business or personal connections vital to the company are linked solely and necessarily to them. Alternatively, unparalleled technical ingenuity and deep understanding of the company’s product may be the key to their importance. In any case the situation demands that they not leave the company. The only viable strategy is to align their self-interest to that of the company’s. This can be done by offering shares of the company, higher salaries and greater benefits. They must be courted and kept, for at this stage the opportunity cost has become much too high. If the individual is a savvy negotiator they may seize the moment and take a lion’s share. That is simply the price the company must pay for allowing itself to be in such a position. I would call this Plan B but in reality there is not much room for choice here.
Remember however it is not the fault of the talented individual for their irreplaceability but rather the rest of the company for allowing such a situation to arise. Any individuals should always be encouraged to achieve greatness to the best of their abilities. And in turn, a company should always be prepared to survive and prosper with the loss of any individual. If handled properly the irreplaceable ones and their companies should be able to have an exceedingly prosperous relationships.
Try to seriously convince someone in the business world that corporate culture is unimportant. You’ll most likely receive a few good-natured chuckles. That is until they see you aren’t stopping and you seem sincere in your delusion. At which point you have plummeted into having the same credibility as a flat-earther and you could say goodbye to potentially networking. There’s good reason for this very much proportionate response. As the company grows, success or failure can hinge on your businesses culture.
As with many fundamental concepts corporate culture has a very simple reason for its importance. The employees should want to work. Who would’ve thought? The people at Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon,… really, just name a Fortune 500 company. And yet the number of startups insist on slave-driving their employees after the slightest growth is staggering.
Businesses must understand that while it is true that they are paying each employee for their time, this does not transform a human being into a machine. Employees retain their personalities, dreams, passions, attention spans and motivations. Now you have the choice in creating an environment which satiates some of their humanity, thus allowing their work alone to be on their mind. Having control over the environment is alike to having control over which direction the current of the river flows where your employee canoes. Why on earth would you make the current flow the opposite direction in which you hired the employee to go? Rather make the current as suitable as you can.
Remember the engine that runs the world’s businesses is Mutual Self-Interest. Without satisfying the interest of both sides not a single business deal would ever be made. Everyone seems to understand this when conducting their affairs with outside entities but they do not apply this philosophy with their employees because they are not viewed as independent entities. The employee is both an individual and a member of the organization. A compromise must be found where the employee is seen both as part of the company but also as an individual with whom business is conducted. Do good business by keeping your business partners happy, that includes your employees.
The design of your work culture relies heavily on the personality of its leaders. Charisma is a necessity for a great leader, but there are several types. You can have the outgoing, funny and lively leader drawing people in through their vibrant energy and in turn creating an energized environment thus naturally engaging people to work with enthusiasm. Alternatively there is the calm, collected and stoic leader able to lead through creating an environment where the employees respect and feel purposeful under a clear and directed path. Thirdly and most commonly, there is the hard-working leader that sets an example. They arrive at the office before anyone else, work efficiently and are the last to leave. This can inspire employees to work harder, out of respect, awe, and a desire to pull their own weight. Note I have given three examples but the qualities are not mutually exclusive from one another and hybrids can be made. Find your own style and optimize the environment based on your strengths.
Lastly, clean up your damn office! It does not matter what type of culture you are trying to create -that is if you want it to be productive- the office space should not repulse the employees. There shouldn’t be trash lying on the floors or mold growing on the kitchenware. Employees should not have plan meals and fluid intake out of fear of having to use the in-office bathroom. Design your office the best you can!