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THINK or Go Wear a Paper Hat: Learned helplessness

Why do you suppose so many employees today have entitlement mentality and learned-helplessness?

I’m talking about the attitude that they think they are  irreplaceable,  indispensable and that they deserve to keep their job even with poor or lackluster performance.

I’m Ford Saeks and I’ve been self-employed most of my life.  That comes with its own pros and cons, but as any entrepreneur knows, you have to be self-motivated and surround yourself with quality, capable employees and then lead them well for success.  You also don’t go broke when you’re making a profit.

My comment about thinking or wearing a paper hat is not meant to insult those hard working fast-food employees. Every job or career is an opportunity for self-respect, to add value and earn money.   But let’s face it. People wearing paper hats don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed or make too many higher-level decisions because they follow systems. Systems that have been designed so they don’t have to think that much, which is why they earn minimum wage or close to it.

If you have to spoon-feed your employees and they aren’t capable of meeting the minimum standards for their position then it’s time to make a change.  Pay should be in relationship to their level of responsibility, performance and results.  Not because they are comparing themselves to other people, other companies, their past position or making excuses.

You can make excuses or results… but you cannot do both.

The economy has changed. There is double-digit unemployment and many markets have been hit hard. Every day there are news stories of company layoffs, downsizing, restructuring and bankruptcies.

Ultimately, the business leader is responsible 100% for the results or lack of results… including me, as the CEO of Prime Concepts Group.  Changes can be difficult for some to grasp, but are necessary for the success of your business.

Employees have to add specific valuable benefits at a profit, which means they have to be continual learners, polishing their skills and on a path of personal growth and improvement… unless of course, they want to make minimum wage or worse yet, settle for victim-hood and unemployment compensation.

What can you do to help them improve?  Is it You?  Are you leading, directing, and managing expectations and outcomes?  Is it that you hired wrong by matching the wrong person to the position?  Or is it that they are simply not capable of doing the requirements for the job and you’re spending an inordinate amount of time doing their work instead of the many things that you’re supposed to be doing to grow the company?

My new motto is “hire slow and fire fast”.   If not, payroll and poor performance will kill your business.

My friend, Les Brown used to tell me “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch”. Another close friend, Roxanne Emmerich, from The Emmerich Group is a master at improving workplace performance and culture. She wrote the best-selling book, “Thank God It’s Monday: How to create a workplace that you and your customers love.”  You can get it at or at any major book seller online or bookstore.  It’s a must read for every business owner, entrepreneur, and management staff.  Roxanne suggests that everyone in your company read it so everyone is on the same page making changes.

My advice is to read the TGIM book, review your staff’s performance and make those decisions that you know you need to make before it’s too late.

Agree? Disagree? Tell me what YOU think in the reply box below.

Author Byline: Ford Saeks, Business Growth Specialist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Consultant. Helping you find, attract, and keep your customers.

July 30, 2010 Posted By : Ford Saeks


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