• Mark Shaw

Stop Killing Bambi – A View on Managing Staff Performance

My good friend and colleague Di Armbrust in our book “The 2% Effect” makes the following observation.

“Bambi’ is a euphemism I’ve coined for your good employees – those worker bees and ‘gifts’ (highly motivated and productive employees) who keep on keeping on for you and therefore, keep delivering the requirements of your business. 

So ‘Killing Bambi’ refers to what happens to the 98 per cent of your employees – your worker bees and gifts – when you don’t deal with the 2%ers. 

Nothing is more distracting or more off-putting in business than people behaving badly. Unfortunately, the 98 per cent are generally too polite to say anything to these people.

However, they are sitting there wishing you, their manager, would do something about them. They can’t understand why you don’t. 

The poor behaviours or performances of the 2%ers also impacts on the performance of worker bees and gifts. My experience tells me that the distraction caused by one of these 2%ers can affect the productivity of your good employees and you by around 20 per cent. So that’s one-fifth of your wage bill that is going by the wayside. It’s good money down the drain.”

The Australian Human Resources Institute liked the idea of “Killing Bambi” so much they published an extract of the book in their March 2017 edition of HR Monthly.

How can we stop ‘Killing Bambi”?  How can we manage the 2%-ers when the issue may be under performance, poor performance, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, deviance, corruption, absenteeism, drug and alcohol abuse, plagiarism, employee theft of time, misuse of company resources in the pursuit of a private venture and use of organisational information technology to transmit pornographic images or simply lack of engagement?

You may be surprised to find that the answer is remarkably simple.  Focus on the management problem caused by the 2%-er’s behaviour.  For example say a 2%-er regularly arrives late to work.  Rather than berate them for being late again, try asking “do you realise that when you are late, it causes me this problem <be specific>.”  Then ask “What can you do to help me solve my problem?”

You might be surprised to know that for over 20 years, about 65% of 2%-ers turnaround and remain positive and productive employees.  Of the remainder, most voluntarily move onto other employment.  On the rare occasion we have had to terminate someone, the process has a 100% success rate of defending the management action and decision.

You will probably not be surprised that on every occasion a manager successfully deals with a 2%-er, a good employee thanks them for dealing with the problem.

As Di said your good employees are wishing you would do something about the 2%-ers and the problems they cause.  Now you have no excuse to keep “Killing Bambi”.

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