Sunday, July 24, 2011

Work ethic, the 100, and the Dilbert philosophy

A friend of mine, a health care educator, has a quote from Heraclitus that he loves to throw around. If you are a gun person, you have probably heard of it, because gun guys love throwing it around as well. I am not sure that many truly understand what the man was trying to say:

Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there.  Eighty are just targets.  Nine are real fighters and we are lucky to have them for they make the battle.  Ah, but the one.  One is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.
 --Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, around 500 B.C.
 This is easily applied to all human endeavors, including the medical field. Of every 100, ten of them are worthless to have around and cause more problems than they solve. I am sure that you all know who those ten are in your organization. Most organizations eventually get rid of them, even if it seems to take forever. (Either that, or they promote them to a position where they cause even more heartache.)

Eighty of the 100 are the drones. The people who work or do just enough to get by. They watch the clock intently and blaze a trail for the door as soon as the appointed hour arrives. They have no interest in improvement, advancement, or in any other thing that will cause them to do anything above what is absolutely required. In the paramedic world, they are easily spotted: When you talk to them about a new procedure or a new bit of knowledge, they tell you something like, "Well, how is that going to change what I do? It isn't? Then why do I want to know that?"

Nine of those 100 employees are the ones who strive to be the best that they can be. They attend schools, expand their knowledge, and they always push themselves to achieve more than they did the year before. We are lucky to have coworkers like this, because they are the ones who others turn to when the shit hits the fan.

The one. He is the one that pushes everyone else to improve and to be the best that they can be. The problem is that the first ten hate him because he calls them out when they screw up, and most of the 80 hate him as well, because he is trying to make them do more than the minimum.

Eventually, the one leaves in disgust, six of the nine become burned out and either move one or join the ranks of the 80, and we are left with an organization filled with mediocre people who work just hard enough to get by, and the three workers become disgruntled, cynical, and generally unpleasant to be around.

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