Too Many Chiefs (EDITORS NOTE)

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,915 views 

“There’s too many chiefs, and not enough Indians.”

My dad would use that phrase occasionally to sum up the goings-on at the Bald Knob Country Club, the nine-hole golf course where I grew up.

And I’ll stop you right there:  No, it’s not a racist phrase. It merely refers to a style of local government — a tribe run by a chieftain.

It’s a phrase that can be used to describe an organization that is top-heavy with bosses, with not enough people willing or available to do the necessary work.

Jerry Gatling, a retired public school administrator, grew up poor in Sheridan, and the man has more “hard work” genes in his body than any person I have ever known. When I was a kid, he was one of several men who helped plant pine trees at BKCC to make defined fairways and transform a piece of land that was once a goat and pig farm into a golf course.

Add to the fact that our house was about 50 yards from the property, he had a vested interest, and did his part to make sure it was run efficiently. He thought others should, too.

So, as I hear rumors of significant layoffs that are apparently in the offing at the Walmart home office, I am reminded of my dad and chiefs and Indians.

If you were to count the number of VPs making beaucoup bucks at Walmart, well, you’d be counting for a while. And it’d be the directors and project managers who’d be tasked with doing the counting.

Like Jerry Gatling, I get the sense Doug McMillon is a hard worker, too. His rise from one-time stock boy of the world’s largest retailer to CEO of the very same company has been well-documented. That doesn’t happen by accident.

Over the past several years, it’s possible we’ve become desensitized to the word “layoff.” There have been a lot of them, and they always sting, especially in a company town.

But, if and when job elimination or consolidation or restructuring or whatever is about to happen happens, kudos to McMillon for leading with action to construct a more efficient and motivated company.