Archive for May 31st, 2006

… yeah, but what about weekend warriors?

Patrick Marzullo – of Respond 2 Communications – pointed me to Tim O’Leary’s new book this morning: “Warriors, Workers, Whiners & Weasels,” which you can preview here. (Whether or not it was an email blast sent out to a bunch of us “business bloggers” is kind of irrelevant at this point. I followed his links and was entertained enough by what I saw that I’m posting about it.)

What’s the premise of Tim’s book? Well, it’s that there are basically four types of people in any organization: Warriors, workers, whiners and weasels:

The Warrior: Successful companies need at least one Warrior—the aggressive innovator who conceptualizes and defines the organization and who fights the
tough battle to make it successful. Some companies have many Warriors,
which can sometimes make for really great organizations or, in other cases,
can lead to disaster, depending on whether or not the Warriors can work

The Worker: The backbone of any company is the Worker—the dependable soldiers who take direction from the Warriors and make things happen. Great com- panies always have great Workers. Workers understand their essential role in society, and they also tend to live the most balanced life among the four categories. Great Workers take tremendous pride in their craft, be it building jets, answering phones, driving a truck, designing microchips, writing legal briefs, or managing a large staff. Workers come in every shape, size and economic category; they perform duties that range from the mundane to the complex.

The Whiner: Whiners might be competent workers, but their negativity and dissatisfaction over- shadow their performance. Often, their whining is a mask for their incompetence. They spend a disproportionate amount of time complaining about others and blaming everyone else for their personal lack of success. They usually attempt to recruit more Whiners from the workplace, creat- ing dissatisfaction among the Workers. One of their great pleasures in life is to contemplate and spread other’s troubles (hence they tend to be big gossipers), as it provides a welcome distraction from their obsession with their own perceived problems.

The Weasel: Weasels are always negative, personally and professionally. They operate from a profound sense of insecurity that clouds their existence and drives them to destroy, for the strangely misguided sense of fulfillment it provides them. They have no regard for honesty, relationships, long-term credibility, or friendships. Weasels tend to be strong in personality, which can make them diffi- cult to identify at the onset. They may initially appear to be a Warrior or Worker. But the core trait of a Weasel is to instill confusion and distrust within his or her structure. Trace back a nasty rumor mill, and usually there was a Weasel involved in its initial development. Weasels delight in stirring up trouble between factions, fueling it with distrust, rumors, and outright lies. They will claim to be everyone’s friend, while not honoring any friendship. Every motivation they possess is designed to fill their in- ternal void, and true friendship is almost impossible for them to attain. Due to their aggressive personalities and relentless methods, they can often become successful and achieve positions of power.

Read the complete descriptions here. Interesting stuff. Jung would be proud. I don’t know if the book will be any good, but it should at least be entertaining.

Also be sure to check out its tongue-in-cheekish companion site: exposeyourweasel.com, which cleverly lets you submit your own weasel and maybe win a 30 gig iPod for your trouble.

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I had a fascinating conversation with a friend a few days ago who is on the verge of quitting his job. He’s always loved working where he is now, is friends with all of his colleagues, likes his boss, loves what he does… but the magic seems to be gone.

I was kind of curious about what happened to so radically change his point of view. Was it the customers? Nope. Was he being treated differently by his boss? No again. Had anything changed in the last six months? Niet.

So what was the problem?

His answer: “I’m just not happy there anymore.”

Interestingly, he isn’t the only one. Several of his coworkers have also seemed to me like they were just going through the motions in the past few weeks. They smile, but they aren’t excited about their jobs like they used to be. I know it isn’t burnout, but it sure looks like burnout. Something definitely isn’t right.

I guess it wouldn’t be a huge problem in and of itself, but I am beginning to hear from customers of this business that the magic is starting to fade for them too. Shopping there isn’t as fun as it used to be. They’ve started to shop around again. The business is doing great, but is starting to lose its edge. Its cool. Its uniqueness.

Before I go on with my story, check out this bit from a piece I wrote a few months ago that addresses this very issue. It was inspired by something Brains On Fire’s Spike Jones posted way back when. It’s this: “Happy employees make happy customers.”

Likewise, unhappy employees make unhappy customers.

There are ways to make your employees happy. Perhaps more importantly, there are ways to make your employees feel proud. And no, rewarding them isn’t something you can fake or buy off with plaques and pins and little bonuses. It’s something that has to feel real.

If you want to inspire your customers, you first have to inspire your employees. If you want to do that, you have to make them feel like they truly are a part of your company and not just worthless pawns.

You have to make them feel like they are on a mission.

You have to make them feel good about the work they do for you.

Does that sound complicated? It really isn’t. It’s actually the simplest thing in the world. Starbucks is doing it. So is Apple. So is Loreal. So is Nike. So is Coca Cola.

Treat people with respect. Give them something worthwhile to do. Inspire them to be knights in your kingdom… or at least happy to be there for as long as they want to stay. That’s it. That’s all you really need to do to get things rolling in the right direction.

So… back to my story. Back to my friend and his career woes. Back to what’s fishy in Denmark. Back to the fact that unhappy employees may not make unhappy customers, but… they sure don’t make happy ones either. Back to what my friend told me next:

“I feel like we’ve all become commodities. We aren’t very high on (the boss’) priority list these days.” And then he went on to tell me what he meant.

Pow. There it was.

Broken windows also happen in your relationship with employees. The people who work for you are your brand at least as much as your products. They are your designers, your evangelists, your human touchpoints, your knights, your fans, your friends, your problem solvers, your band of brothers (and sisters). You can’t take them for granted. Perhaps more importantly, you can’t make them feel like you are. Ever. Not for one minute.

Pay them what they’re worth. Protect them. Empower them. Put your trust and faith in them. Don’t ever think for one second that they can be easily replaced.

Treat your employees like they’re your best customers.

That’s advice you can take to the bank.


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