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Monday, March 30th, 2015


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What Kind of Employee Are You? An Eagle or a Turkey?

“A troublemaker is a person who rocks the boat, then persuades everyone else there is a storm at sea.”

  -Anonymous

“Did you hear what happened to Denise?” Someone asked me.

I nodded.

Denise had been fired after she was found sound asleep under a vacant cubicle.

She was a turkey.

In his book, Hire Tough: How to Find and Hire the Best Hourly Employees, Mel Kleiman speaks about people who are turkeys—and get hired. He said “that the turkeys are so good at disguising themselves as eagle. They figure out what the employer wants and they provide it—they know how to look, act and sound like eagles.”

And that’s true. Go to any bookstore or library and you’ll find hundreds of books on how to write the best resumes, how to impress potential employers during an interview, how to dress, how to act on the first day of a new job, etc.

But with all of this coaching are people putting their best foot forward or pretending to be someone that they are not?

When I was the trainer for the new employees within my department, I recognized immediately what category Denise was in. Before she got fired (after only two months of employment) I went to my supervisor and asked who Denise knew that would justify her still being there? 

Every year thousands of Denise’s are fired from their jobs. The million dollar question is: How did they get hired in the first place?

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Depending on the company, a high turnover costs thousands each year with unemployment compensation, job ads, training of new employees, and the lost productivity of other unhappy employees. 

Kleiman explains how some people get hired.

He said that many employers hire without a “grocery list.” Everyone knows not to go to the grocery store hungry because “you’ll buy the first thing that looks good and doesn’t need to be cooked,” he said. The employer feels pressured to hire someone and they are less likely to be selective. “The employer doesn’t know what they are looking for when they are looking (it hard to hit a target when they don’t know what the target is).”

Chemistry does play a part during an interview. “If they like the person, they’ll ask them easy questions. But if they dislike the person, they’ll ask hard questions to determine why they should hire them.” 

Kleiman said that most managers hire great applicants and not great employees. Why? “The applicant can start tomorrow because they were fired from their last job yesterday.”

People who get hired and never reach their full potential do so because the employer “has no expectation of the new employee and don’t hold them accountable.” According to Kleiman, “The employer refuses to admit that they made a mistake.”   

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People want to work with people they like and no one wants to works with someone who doesn’t do their job. “Good employees get frustrated and leave,” Kleiman said.  

That’s what Mikki Carver, a history major at the University of Memphis, wants to do. At her job, she has a manager from hell. “She doesn’t do any work; she expects others to do it. She leaves randomly—once to go tanning, and didn’t even clock out.” Carver said that her manager is not a turkey, but might be a skunk.

But not everyone works with a turkey. Some of us are lucky enough to soar with eagles. Donovan Ciaramitaro, an anthropologist major at the University of Memphis, gives props to one of his co-workers. “He’s not the best employee, but he’s very adamant about what he does. He’s very persistent.” Despite the pestering he receives from other employees, this colleague is an eagle in Ciaramitaro’s eye. 

Eagle Tendencies
Part of the solution, not part of the problem
Keep personal business at home where it belongs
Look for ways to help improve the company’s bottom line and customer relationships
Create boundaries with coworkers so that the work gets done
Are a team player
Arrives on time

Turkey Tendencies
Barely does the minimum required
A social butterfly, spends more time talking and laughing than working
Unreliable, chronically late or absent; has a million and one excuses that no one believes but them
Tons of outside personal issues that interfere with his or her work
Challenges everything and everyone or stays in the manager’s office complaining about the supervisor or others
Has an “I will not learn, but will take a paycheck” mentality
Those that let you know that a certain task is “not their job”
Bad attitudes

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