A recent over hear of a conversation led me to this….the problem of the minnow in the fish tank.
When I was younger, my grandmother had a fish tank that contained “house fish”. They were fish bought at a store and never would see a lake, stream, creek, or other natural body of water. One day, we discovered the fish were dying and we didn’t know why. We checked the filter, water, food and other things pertinent to the upkeep of fish in a tank and they were all fine. It was found that a fish from outside and from a different environment, a minnow, had been put into the tank with all of the other fish. It was killing the other fish, and removing it solved the problem. Being reminded of this situation has led me to see how it is relevant to situations other than fish in a tank. It is especially relevant to situations that are job related. Particularly situations that involve issues with employees. High rates of turnover for employees is a sitation that came to mind when reminded of this incident from my childhood. It isn’t necessarily that someone is a bad fit. maybe they’re just not of the same ilk as the rest of the people they work with. They’re the same things professionally, but, They’re meant to be in a different environment. It’s their nature so to speak that causes such issues in the work place. It is also a reason why I think certain people don’t belong in healthcare. I’ve worked with several people over the years who would have been a better service to the realm of business or another environment.
As a healthcare professional, I’ve been witness to people ruin environments they are in because they’re not a fit for them. Instead of solving the problem, which is to eliminate the minnow, other people suffer because of a person or two who should be in another industry or work environment. It is why turnover rates are high on certain jobs, while other jobs with similar work, don’t have the same problem. It isn’t the workload or the hours. It also isn’t the pay either. It’s the people. They are the ones who cause the problems that lead to high employee turnover rates. Usually the issue can be eliminated by getting rid of one or two people who are the minnows in the fish tank. When the minnow(s) are eliminated, the other fish thrive. It’s a problem that a lot of employers don’t address or don’t want to admit. Too often, it is easy to blame workload or low pay as the reason for employees not staying at a job. They have years of high rates of turnover because they never solve the problem. They can add money to the mix and even change the way work is performed, but it is useless if they don’t actually eliminate the problem employees. Sometimes the problem is difficult to determine as the employee(s) are a part of management or are considered good employees. It’s not about performance so much as the environment they create. Fixing the problem involves getting rid of the minnow(s). It is a problem that I’ve seen left unsolved because one or two people are good employees in spite of the environment they create or cause. Just because someone is good at their job doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a good fit for the environment or people they work with. Whether it be a different career field or a different work environment, the minnow is best dealt with by not being in the situation they are in.
Remembering the minnow in the fish tank also is a reminder that, no matter what you do, some people are never going to be a good fit for the environment they are in. Removing the minnow from the fish tank and putting it in its natural environment solved the problem. It created a good environment for the other fish, plus gave the minnow a place that was where it was supposed to be. The problem was solved and it ended up being a good solution for everyone. Not solving the issue and making it look like you did doesn’t do anything but continue stress and strife for everyone. Actually solving the problem creates the opposite. Everyone gets what they need. It’s a shame that more isn’t done to actually solve problems and eliminate the stressors that create a bad working environment. Not every management style is for everyone, and not every working environment is for everyone either. Elimate those problems, and you solve a lot of the problems with high turnover rates and poor job performance.