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Barely Breathing

Given an opportunity to work hard, we would take it.  Let that settle in for a moment.

True?  Have you ever met someone who did not want to work hard, but just good enough?  Yeah, me too.  From an HR perspective, it would be hard to write someone like that up.  Is it a performance issue?  Not likely.  They are doing the core job responsibilities and providing a work product that allows for either service or production to move forward as it should.  Again, the minimums (at least) are met.

Perhaps we should change the minimums.  That would show ‘em!  Perhaps for some, but could be that the person will “rise” to the occasion of the new standard, but just.  Flying under the radar by staying out of the fray of involvement with others more than necessary helps to keep this person on the fringe of team and of promotion.

We think that dangling the carrot of advancement means something to everyone.  It’s not always the case.  There are folks who are happy to be a worker bee, do what is needed and then head back to the hive.  We think that the person is barely breathing in the environment we’re building based upon some sort of experiential standard in our heads.  And that rubs up against our motivational work-speak on long-term involvement and team building, especially in this climate of everyone wants advancement every 6 months.

Are we okay with having worker bees?

Part of the comfort with that answer lies in our ability to not take it personally.  Someone who is content to punch a clock, do a respectable job and then go home should not make us feel like we’ve failed.  This person’s desire is not meant to undercut your phenomenal managerial abilities or your talent development aptitude.  Dare I say...It’s not about you.

Further, there are ways to show appreciation for the person who is steady to meet work product.  Think about the person who has a banner month.  We celebrate, we make a fuss, we jump on the encouragement bandwagon.  And then, in the next month, that person falls short of expectations.  We meet with, inquire of and motivate that person.  That all may be fine, but the annualized production of that person might actually mirror that of the slow and steady employee.  The one who doesn’t get a fuss in any month, but who meets what’s required and demonstrates a consistent understanding of role and output sits equal to the up and down employee.

Respectfully, this person deserves a bit of love and appreciation.  Someone who knows what he/she wants and delivers a consistent performance should be appealing to us.  We cannot expect everyone to want to be a supervisor or a corporate trainer.  For sure, we can work with them regarding the technical components of the role – preparation, process and output – but we should not expect them to want to roll up their sleeves to lead the battle on any of those pieces.

Take their knowledge and allow it work for the betterment of the team.  If this person can figure out how to provide the minimum each day consistently, I submit there are some on the team for whom we would wish this truth.  It’s not terrible to have someone own a worker bee role.

Of course, this is not the same as the person who does the bare minimum with a lousy attitude, negative speak about the company and disobedient disposition towards management.  That kind of pot-stirrer should be disciplined right out of the company.  Do not pass Go and do not collect $200…Get the heck out of here.

It’s not likely that our sourcing and recruitment strategy will include banners stating, “Work here and do the bare minimum!”  However, these worker bees serve a real productive purpose.  It’s not necessarily a reflection of what we’re doing wrong, but could actually be a part of what’s going right.

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