Crabs in a barrel

2 Mar

Last week the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business and locally owned Hills Bank co-sponsored the annual Hughes Lecture.

The speaker, an economist from Virginia Tech, ended an extremely lucid and entertaining talk with a discussion of “crabs in a barrel.” He noted that if you put crabs in a barrel and one tries to climb out, the others will swarm and drag it down.  His point was entrepreneurs, managers and executives must focus more on the quality of the people in their companies, developing the performers and weeding out the destructive people.

In Beyond Luck there is an extensive discussion of troublesome employees. These people have common characteristics: “anger, cynicism, unrelenting complaining and ducking responsibility, generally disliked by their co-workers and they help create toxic workplaces.”

Research by Gallup Corp shows that one major source of job satisfaction is respected colleagues who often become best friends.  In an earlier post the premier importance of people as an asset was discussed.  Do you have the values, knowledge and skills to manage a high performance workforce?

One Response to “Crabs in a barrel”

  1. Lynn Manternach March 3, 2010 at 6:23 am #

    You’re so right, John. The quality of employees is critical for a company’s success. It’s always been the case, but becoming more of a factor as consumers focus less on advertising to make decisions, and more on word of mouth and their personal experience with a brand. Your employees are your brand representatives – whether you like it or not – and if you have toxic people representing your brand, eventually you will have a toxic brand.

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