My father was a farmer, a blacksmith, and an electrician who worked the hoot owl shift at a General Motors plant to pay for his farming addiction. He was also a pragmatist. After observing me engaged in a passionate argument with a person who clearly was not listening to what I had to say and had no intention of changing his behavior, he said to me “Stop trying to teach the pig to dance.” Perplexed by this bit of farm wisdom, I asked what he meant. He replied “It’s a waste of your time and it irritates the pig.” And he, as usually, was right.
I have since heard the quote, so it did not originate with my Dad, but it illustrates how you should be dealing with The Others – the 20% of the workforce that should have been fired yesterday (I used to refer to them as “pigs” but was informed that, while it was an accurate description, it was politically incorrect). As I stated in last week’s posting, I don’t believe The Others will ever be anything but The Others regardless of how much time, energy and resources a Company expends on them. And exactly how much time energy and resources does the average Company expend on The Others in an attempt to improve their performance? My best estimate, based on what I hear in the Workshops I do for Frontline Leaders, is that the Pareto Principle applies to the amount of Company resources The Others suck up, without there ever being a Return On Investment of those resources: Front Line Leaders spend 80% of the time they manage employees on The Others and the Temporary Employees who are becoming The Others and only 20% of their time coaching and training the Core Employees and Temporary Employees who have the potential to become Core Employees! This is truly ass backwards (another farm saying used by my father)!
Companies are able to engage in C.O.P.I. (Continuous Operational Performance Improvement) only if they concentrate on increasing their strengths and eliminating their weaknesses. Core Employees and the top 30% of the Temporary Employees (those that show the potential to become Core Employees) are the Company’s strength. Managers need to invest 80% of their time in praising and rewarding Core Employees and training, coaching and motivating Temporary Employees so they will become Core Employees, and 20% of their time getting The Others out of the Company.
The Bottom Line is: How much time is your Company spending on trying to rehabilitate The Others? And wouldn’t that time be better spent with Core and Temporary Employees?