It’s Called Work …

What happens when you come across a book that preaches that disrespect is grounds for immediate dismissal? That you shouldn’t concern yourself with being liked … instead, be respected; that you should remember that you work for someone, a company … that person has the right to say what you do, when you do it, and how you do it; and that you shouldn’t tolerate abuse, disrespect, or a lack of ethics or integrity from your employer … life is short, there are other jobs?Most likely, you would sit up and take notice. I did.

Being a blunt type of person, It’s Called Work for a Reason by Larry Winget was a welcome addition to my personal library. It leaves no one unchallenged and the sacred cows of the workplace up for grabs. It’s not for the thin-skinned, anyone void of a sense of humor, wrapped up in political correctness or immersed in the business parable babble that frequents the best seller lists.

According to Winget, “The formula for success isn’t a secret. It’s simply this: Hard work will achieve great results and will lead to greater success.”

When it comes to the workplace, he continues, “Business gets better right after the people in the business get better.”

The workplace has changed over the years. For some, less hours; for others, more. For some, flex time; for others, hours are in stone. For some, the sky is the limit; for others, the job is a dead end. And for some, the workplace is alive with opportunities; for others, it’s a place to hang out until you retire in eight years.

It’s Called Work for a Reason opens up all whole Pandora’s Box of issues that can be likened to having an elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge or deal with.

A common dilemma for a manager is how to deal with the dead weight in the department; and for the employee, it’s how to deal with the dead weight that’s a co-worker. For Winget, that’s a simple one … amputate it.

Think of the workplace personnel as a type of bell curve in three sections, as in 20 percent, 60 percent, and 20 percent. The first 20 percent section is the go-getters—they are jazzed about work, will take on just about anything, don’t grumble and gripe and need little supervision. Comparing them to a VCR would put them in “fast forward” mode all the time.

The middle section of 60 percent is good workers, not great, but good. Reliable, on time, gets work done, not very creative, but they are the backbone of the organization. Their VCR mode is on “play.”

Then there are the remaining 20 percent. Many are retired on active duty—they get a paycheck, show up most of the time, going the extra mile isn’t in their mantra, sluggish is the norm. Their VCR mode is either on “stop” or “rewind.”

Ironically, most managers put enormous energy into the stop/rewind group. Why? Probably because they’ve always done it that way. Wignet’s take is that it’s simply impossible to do—you can’t motivate the unmotivated; you can’t educate the uneducable; and you can’t make some care. What a manager must do is learn how to write them off and save energy.

So, with all that excess energy that will be harnessed, what does a manager do? Redirect it.

One of the ahas about the “stars” of the workplace—those top 20 percent— is that not only do they not need to be motivated to do well, but that they don’t stay around indefinitely. This group gets bored easily and is more likely off searching for greater workplace challenges and adventures.

That leaves the 60 percent group—the not so great, just pretty good group. You feed them, nurture them, and let them sprout their wings. Many can be great, they just have been overshadowed. When one of the top 20 percent moves on, the understudy is ready for the spotlight. As Winget says, “There is a gold mine of talent just waiting to shine.”

As a manager, your job becomes to move them to another level—the upper 20 percent or to the bottom of the pile. Kind of like heading them up, heading them on, heading them out. Works for me.