Pareto Principle at Work: A Few Good Men (Part 1)…

Everyday, motivation or not, with out any choice, we all go to office. People usually find it sad and boring place. Indeed. It can be mundane and a huge let down if we don’t find a purpose to go to office. I doubt, if everyone around me, everyone I know who is working , has such a purpose. So, what happens if you get choicest of purposeless people, selected via a competent recruitment process (in process, rejecting atleast 15 candidates and 30 CVs)? You create ‘Organization’. Any organization. All best employers and worst employers and average employers are made up of this stuff. Zombies working for paying their EMI every 5th, 10th or 15th of every month. An average employee, will always find a purpose beyond the job – like I do with this piece of space on internet, which learned people called blog.

I am a great believer in Pareto Principle, the famous 80:20 thing, when it comes to organization. Yes, you guessed it right, 80% of the work is done by 20% of employees. Rest 80% employees are about the non-core work that has little impact on the overall top line or bottom line. On second thoughts, these 80% have an impact on revenue – negative impact. Somebody has to use and abuse the resources provided. Tell me, what better use of stationary you can think of apart from stocking it in your home and giving it to our kids/siblings/friends etc. And, the awesome-broadband connection, TT table, water bottles, toffees kept for visitors, cookies/biscuits in pantry, bottomless coffee, AC environment etc. etc.

Anyway, as per Pareto principle, we know there are atleast 20% of people who work and take company forward. Here’s a sneek peek into some types of employees that constitute rest of the 80%:

9AM to 3.30PM Worker: Though this guy works from 9 to 6, but look closely – ‘real’ working hours aligns with that of National Stock Exchange/Bombay Stock Exchange, even though he is working for none of these companies. He is powered by ICICI Direct, Indiabulls, Geojit, HDFC etc. He is the go-to person for getting updates on stock market without opening moneycontrol website. He is more bothered about companies (that he holds in his portfolio) announcing quarter/annual results than his own companies performance. Organizations call him by a very strange name – Project Manager.

Sulk-Whine-Crib in One: This guy was born cynical. He is never happy. In a way, this guy is a boon for organizations. He is ushrer of change, because he is never happy with what you have at present. He dislike everything starting from his role, work assigned, salary he is getting, salary others are getting, salaries he/others are not getting, quality of coffee, quality of rest rooms, quality of seats, cubicles and of everything tangible, work timings etc. He has a special affinity for cribbing and whining about HR and Admin. Not a single day passess when you don’t hear him remembering beloved HR and ADMIN. Somedays are however reserved for leadership, bosses and company strategies. I call these people, reformists.

Image Courtsey: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Dilbert

Employee 2.0: These employees are most sought after. Afterall, these people know the workaround for proxies for accessing personal wesbites. Equipped with Gtalk, they revel in Facebook and Orkut, with constant twitter and buzz  updates. If you look into your Facebook, these are the people who post max number of comments on your wall and pics, all in office hours. Thanks to this burgeoning set of employees, everyday 83 million around the world log on to Farmville, you friendly agrarian game, which will have a certain impact on India’s GDP, direct or indirect. The world calls them, Consumers.

I-gotta-go-else-I-will-miss-my-bus/cab: These are the civilians who would closely compete with the armed services, when it comes to punctuality. Indian Railway could take a cue from their day-to-day working life. The underlying principle these people work on – “There is no work in this world that cannot be done tomorrow”. As the clock strikes 5.15, you take a look at their cubicle, voila! the monitor is switched off and chair nicely tucked under the table, as if its waiting to be used afresh. Usually, these are also the people who put a strong arguement for passing the ‘Cab Rights Bill’, which reccommends the best practices for pick/drop, optimal route to follow, seating arrangement etc. These are called ‘old timers’ in company parlance.

The Ambitious Entreprenuer: There is no escaping him. He is oozing with ideas to start an enterprise of his own and appoints you the first director-cum-shareholder-cum-employee-cum-peon of his company. He is usually reading Guy Kawasaki or Seth Godin blogs or books. His favorite site/home page is TED.com and secretly plans to join The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) local chapter. He usually asks you for 5 minutes stroll or tea break, which turns out to be a half an hour monologue, at the end of which you need another 5 minutes stroll or tea break – ALONE. You guessed correctly, they never will become entreprenuers, claiming lack of ‘Seed Capital’ or ‘Angel Investors’. I call these people, “Wannabe’s”. These are the employee who also pan out to become innovators, by suggesting implementing (offcourse, unsuccessfully!) the latest open source tool or management practice in the company.

Lick-Till-You-Can-Lick-No-Futher: Known to be as the fastest growing employee around. Their CAGR often beats company’s performance. Rather than on their desk, they are found in boss’s cabin, probably passing on the latest gossip or just talking utter BS. They seem to recieve all possible awards (spot, month, quarter, annual, debut etc. etc.) for their outstanding contribution to the company. All senior managers and bosses know him by name and he starts his day by saying Hi Sir/Good Morning Ma’am. According to research-conducted-but-never-published, attrition among this category is found to be the lowest, in low single digits. This is owing to the fact that they are always in hibernation mode and what better place to hide in a company!  Their default reaction is ‘Yes, that is absolutely correct’ or ‘Yes, I agree with you’. They defy all odds by addressing bosses as ‘Sirjee’ even at places where there is culture of addressing by First Name. What an idea, Sirjee!

More on Few Good Men later…

P.S> I hope you have seen or come across the characters defined above in your workplace. If your favorite character could not make it, let me know. Who knows, some one you nominate, may make it in the next post!! Read the second part of this series here.

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