Why Everyone Needs to Have an Organizational Expiration Date

We got home from vacation recently, and like most families, we were foraging through the cupboards and refrigerator to make dinner our first night back home.

I poured some milk for my son and he asked me, “is that milk all right?” like somehow I hadn’t considered its feelings, but what he mostly meant was, “is it still good?”

Sure, the expiration date had passed a day or so prior, but I did the Dad smell test and that milk was more than all right. My son wasn’t in agreement, so our “all right” milk took a trip to never-gonna-get-drunk-land down the sink.

Expiration dates on food are great because they both help us understand when something goes bad, and, protects us from ourselves and what we think is good and bad – which can be subjective. It makes me think that we should have expiration dates on our employees!

Missing increased expectations

During the recent holiday weekend I got to watch a ton of football – both college and NFL – and if coaches don’t have an expiration date on them, I’m starting a movement that we should add these to all coaches. The Philadelphia Eagles head coach, Andy Reid, is an excellent example.

Here’s a guy who has taken his team to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, but it still seems like his expiration date is up in Philadelphia. It’s not that he’s a bad coach; in fact, he’s arguably the most successful coach the Eagles have ever had with a winning percentage over .600, second only to the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick during that same time.

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So, why has his expiration date come up? It’s all about expectations. Once you gain success, it’s not good enough to maintain that success or, God forbid, go backwards. You have to keep getting more successful. The only way Reid gets more successful is to win the Super Bowl – which is tough to do.

The type of people who need expiration dates

There are a number of other reason people should have expiration dates with organizations, and these include:

  • Chronic Average: This is for the people who just never really do anything — they just exist in your organization. After a while, they need to just go exist at another organization.
  • Convicted Idiot: This is the person who makes a certain bad decision, and it is so bad that their expiration with your organization must come up. Think of hitting on the wife of your boss at the holiday party, or worse! You probably can’t legally terminate them, but they need to go someplace else.
  • 1997 Top Salesman/Woman: This happens way too much. Yeah, you were top sales person a decade ago, so either work hard to get the trophy back or go give another organization your attitude! We tend to keep them around because we are hoping they’ll regain their top form – but they don’t. Just let them expire.
  • My Boss Is Dumber than Me: An organization can take only so many of these for only so long. Ok, you win; go be smarter than us someplace else.
  • No Admins Left To Sleep With: I’m hoping the title of this one explains it, otherwise, you might have reached your HR expiration date at your organization!

Come see Tim Sackett speak on What Your CEO Wished HR Would Do at the TLNT Transform conference in Austin, TX Feb. 26-28, 2012. Click here for more information on attending this event. 

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


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