Don’t Be a Squidward!

If you’ve ever tuned into Nickolodeon you’ve probably run by a funny little show called SpongeBob Sqaurepants.  It’s about a funny little guy who lives at the bottom of the ocean with a starfish, crab, squid and even a squirrel.  I like this show because of it’s humor but also that it possesses those funny little nuggets of info that only adults can appreciate.

One of my favorite characters is that of Squidward.  Squidward is Spongebob’s neighbor and co-worker at The Krusty Krab (a local resaturant).  While SpongeBob revels in his job, Squidward loathes it.  In every episode it is pretty plain to see that while Squidward works at the Krusty Krab day in and day out, he does not like what he does.

One particular episode, Krusty Krab Training Video, that is designed to look like a traditional employee training.  In it SpongeBob is used as the ideal employee, happy-go-lucky, cheery, and eager to learn.  Whereas Squidward is labeled as the antithesis going so far as to be called out in the video:”Don’t Be a Squidward!”

Don’t Be a Squidward!

What is it about Squidward that makes him a bad employee?  “If I had a dollar for every brain you don’t have, I’d have one dollar.” Is it his elitism? Squidward differentiates himself from the rest of the masses as being the only one who thinks rationally.  Squidward is very open and honest about his role at the Krusty Krab.  He performs the minimal amount of work to get paid.  Any work requested beyond that will always be met with gripes and demands.  Squidward is in it for the money and even if he makes slightly more money, will always be underwhelmed. “Oh no, this is terrible! Who’s going to sign my paycheck?” He lacks in empathy which makes himself isolated from the rest of the crowd. Squidward is certainly an un-engaged employee.

While Squidward’s apparent lack of interest in his current position makes him a terrible employee, in reality this is really a lesson in bad management.  Continually Krabs allows this employee to ridicule others, tow the line, and get away with poor performance.  Squidward continues to act elitist and ungrateful because he has no fear of losing his job.

Now I know you might be saying to yourself, “Hey, this is just a cartoon…”  But do you have any Squidward’s at your workplace?  Are they under performing?  Constantly demanding?  If so, why are they still there?  Managers can hang on to poor performing employees for any number of reasons:

Not wanting to recruit or train a new employee

Fear of unemployment claims

Personal relationship

Legal retaliation (disability, protected class, etc.)

If this were a real life situation and a manager had a “Squidward Situation” the best process would be:

1. Research and qualify the employee’s actions – What are they doing wrong? When are they doing it? How is it affecting business?

2. Sit with the employee and describe the specific actions that are unacceptable and provide support to correct their actions.

3. Provide the employee with an expected time frame to improve (in writing!)

4. Review and react. If the employee still is under performing then it may be time to part ways.

Ger rid of the Squidwards and find yourself some more SpongeBobs.  And remember: Don’t Be a Squidward.

Do you know any Squidwards in your work place? 

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Christine Assaf

Christine Assaf is an experienced HR Professional with a passion for Social Media. Blogging for over three years Christine started, a professional blog, that talks about all these HR related – both from the manager and employee perspective. You will often find her on twitter exchanging HR wisdom from "behind the scenes." A conference speaking veteran, Christine enjoys helping job seekers with skills assessment, resume review, and mock interviews and coaching executives on best strategies. She is also an active participant in Toastmasters, plays Dungeons & Dragons, loves football and running. Christine’s wit and charm light up the “internet” with the perfect combo of HR knowledge and snark. You can connect with Christine on LinkedIn.


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