If you want to implement change effectively and improve employee engagement, then you need to implement a “zero tolerance of jerks” rule.

Change is a team sport. You cannot change alone and the more people on board the change the easier it becomes. The reason so many change efforts fail and why employee engagement is low has been discussed in many business articles over the years. If you want to know more, just attend Bee Ready For Change and Bee Engaged workshops 🙂

In Bee Ready For Change and Bee Engaged workshops I discuss the “toxic” people in the office and how they affect change and employee engagement. We discuss how to deal with these folks and ways to move them along to being more positive. At the end of the day, if nothing changes once all of the options are exhausted, there is really only one course of action – the jerks must go.

I recently read with interest an article on performance and teamwork. One example mentioned the Norwegian Winter Olympics team. I totally understand that sport is not business and there are too many analogies between the two but this one really did get my attention. In the Norwegian Winter Olympics team, they have a great rule :-


A quote from Kjetil Jansrud, the super-G champion sums it up succinctly :-

“We believe there is no good explanation or justification for why you have to be a jerk to be a good athlete. So we just won’t have that kind of thing on our team. You have to get along with everyone.”

I absolutely love this. Jerks suck energy (energy vampires), they take up your time, they go against everything the team is striving for. More teams need to adapt this rule in business (and in sport). This is where great leadership comes in. Too often we tolerate the jerks at the expense of the positive outliers. The result? The positive outliers leave and one is left with mediocre employees who have little enthusiasm to make change happen.

A key lesson when implementing change and improving employee engagement is just this – do not tolerate jerks. Strong and cohesive teams make change happen and improve employee engagement at the same time.

If the jerks are allowed to stay, consider this quote from Jim Collins:

“Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.”

Paul Rigby – co-author of The Bee Book and facilitator for Bee Ready For Change and Bee Engaged workshops