The Irreplaceable One

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.