One basic difference between cats and dogs is motivation.
Centuries of cat and dog humor captures the stereotypes: A dog wants to please you; a cat couldn’t care less.
Dogs are devoted and loving and selfless. Cats are aloof, indifferent, and self-indulgent.
Dogs are social and act in ways that maintain and support the social order. Cats are solitary and act in ways that benefit themselves.
Yes, a cat may come running when she hears you going for the can opener, and with enough effort you can teach her to roll over on command some percentage of the time. Ultimately, though, her engagement with you lasts as long as she wants it to last. A cat is not out to please you; she’s in it for herself.
She is not, and never will be, a dog. - Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg
This is a wonderful analogy to use when you’re trying to explain to your boss, national headquarters, or to your regional HR person why it is that some folks don’t “play well with others.” They just don’t have it in them to work with a team.
You need to face the fact that there are those who are only out for themselves; that’s the way it’s always been and the way it will always be.
But when you need to build a high functioning team, they become a problem.
And it only takes one to destroy or seriously impair team performance.
Simply put: that person is a cat. Substitute “team player” for the word “dog” and you may begin to connect the dots.
A few years ago I dealt with a “cat” who spent each day lining her own pockets at the expense of the Company, the clients, and her office staff. She willfully ignored company policy and good business practice. She never accepted responsibility for her own performance and instead blamed whoever was convenient.
Clearly, this is the type of person who couldn’t care less about anything or anyone. She was definitely not a team player.
As the Eisenberg's say, "it takes a lot of work to persuade a person who isn’t listening." Expecting someone like that to change makes about as much sense as waiting for a cat to bark.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve about given up. Just get them the h#&& off your team and the sooner the better for everyone – the team, the company, and you.
Thanks to the Eisenberg's for their wonderful analogy - and you can check out their great book on marketing here.
There is recent research to indicate that it indeed "only takes one" non-motivated person to impact a high performing team and not for the better. We'll revisit this issue soon.