Dear Preston: My Boss Just Said We Are All Replaceable

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Dear Preston,

I am working for a very upsetting woman. She’s very talented but she actually told my colleague “don’t forget that everyone is replaceable” when my colleague didn’t “yes” one of her ideas. To be fair, she was trying to save the company $10,000, something she wound up agreeing with after her terrible comment (for which she has yet to apologize). I am new to management but as I plan to have my own business someday, I wondered what you thought about these kinds of statements and what you think is important when hiring a team.


Dear Appalled:

I can only imagine how all of you felt hearing that. Not the best way to build trust in a company and certainly not a good way to keep team morale up. That said, I will answer your question. I think one of the most important things a business owner can do is to hire a team he or she can trust, count on, lean on and learn from. Beyond having the right skills, it’s essential that you hire men and women who believe in your company and vision and who have a dedication to the brand, one another and you. The “everyone is replaceable” approach to management is constantly noted among effective leaders as one of the most toxic business ideologies one can have. As saturated as all markets can be, good talent hard to find and an employee with a high skill set and loyalty is even more difficult. The same goes for a great boss. Most employees who have one not only stay in their positions but go the extra mile because they feel they are working as a part of a team with someone who truly values and appreciates them.

My suggestion would be to let this go and not expect an apology. It could have been a momentary lapse in judgement or real insight into her way of thinking, but I would like to think it was one of those moments when a bad mood and a poor choice of words come together. This happens to everyone, good bosses and employees as much as not so good ones. What matters is that you do the best work you can do and support your colleagues in ways that support one another and help you grow as professionals.




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