"A good salesman is worth his weight in gold."
As obvious as that statement should be, its meaning was apparently lost on the upper management at Circuit City. Two years ago, in one of the most ridiculous business decisions of all time, Circuit City decided to fire all of its top-producing sales representatives because they were "too expensive".
What were they thinking!?
This was the epitome of the cliche "penny wise and pound foolish." While they may have already been in financial trouble, the last thing in the world the company needed to do at that time was fire its best, most experienced, staff. All they got for this short-term bottom line boost was the demoralization of those who remained. Why on earth would anyone try to excel when the company has made clear that if you get too good, you get the boot? Dogbert himself could not have come up with a better disincentive program.
Of course, the public relations nightmare that ensued didn't help matters. I know several people who swore never to darken a Circuit City doorstep again because of how they treated their employees.
We may never know all of the mistakes made by Circuit City management. I think it is now safe to assume, however, that the top-sales employee purge was not the only one (or possibly even the worst.)
So, what is the lesson to be learned? Aside from the obvious, pointed out by this article's opening statement, perhaps a general thought that if you respect your people, and teach them to respect your product and your customers, you have a much better chance of success.