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a blog by Chris Barrow

Herd susceptibility - why 5% of your team might be bringing the rest down

Before I start on a bit of a rant this morning, I want to preface my comments with a reminder of an 80/15/5 rule relating to teams:

  • 80% of team members are absolute heroes - turning up in the Covid environment and doing their level best every day to perform and behave in a way that deserves our respect and appreciation;

  • 15% of team members do whatever is the minimum necessary to get through the day and that's it;

  • 5% of team members bitch, moan and whine about their work and (probably) their lives.

The 5%'ers have now come up with a new Covid-related phenomenon.

I'm calling it "herd susceptibility".

If one team member takes a day off sick - then the 5%'ers consider it a signal to take an occasional day off sick, whenever they feel like it.

This is obviously without notice and, therefore, gives no consideration to their fellow team members, to you and your managers or to the patients, in that rapid alterations will have to be made in the rota - at best causing disruption and, at worst, cancellation.

My experience thus far has been that, if you challenge a 5%'er on their performance and behaviour, they are most likely to rush to their GP and get a fit note for 2 weeks on account of "anxiety and stress at work".

It's at that point the 15%'ers will roll their eyes an begrudgingly take up the slack, whilst the 80%'ers will ask themselves why you, as the owner of the business, tolerate the bad apple?

There genuinely isn't a week that goes by that I'm not in conversation with clients about 5%'ers and their effect on systems and (more importantly) morale.

More often than not, the owner is exhausted by having to deal with this, in addition to "everything else" and actually scared of the HR consequences of confronting these people.

The politically correct approach appears to be that you show compassion and try to rescue everyone, including the 5%'ers.

5%'ers love it when you try and rescue them - like Dementors they inhale your sympathetic solutions as fuel for their continued behaviour.

I. for one, am sick of owners being emotionally blackmailed and mentally traumatised by dealing with 5%'ers.

I'll tell you what I tell everyone.

If an unexploded Second World War bomb was discovered in the basement of your premises:

  1. You wouldn't ask the team and the patients to tiptoe around it;

  2. You wouldn't have a go at defusing it yourself;

  3. You wouldn't hire a bomb disposal expert who told you it would be best left alone because tinkering with it might set it off.

You would call in an expert who knew how to get the damn thing removed.


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