Lame Duck Syndrome anyone?

Written by John Brosnan, Human Resource Adviser.

Most of us would have heard the term “Lame Duck” at some point.
Most commonly applied in politics and specifically relating to a second term US president and congress with majority from the opposing party.

The good news though, I’m not talking about politics. I want to discuss  the relationships people bring to the employment table when they go for jobs.

It probably all sounds very politically incorrect and if that concerns you, you might wish to skip reading this article, because I’m going to propose an idea that I observe and hope will get people thinking. My goal being to change a behaviour for the better, and here lies my take on the “lame duck” employee. (I should probably add this is solely my view, representing my work based observations and not couched in academic terms at all).

Have you ever come across a person who seems to always manage to get a job with an employer who takes advantage of them? An employer who’s a bit of a bully and doesn’t value the team? It doesn’t matter who, this poor employee always gets employed by someone who will behave like this. Each time they leave a job, they are looking forward to finding the employer who will help them realise the potential they undoubtedly have.  That will help them grab the success they deserve, and each and every time, it quickly falls flat and they have, again, picked a dud.

The flip side is the employer who always employs “losers”, staff who just don’t “get it”. Again, no matter who, they cannot employ anyone who is capable of following simple instructions, thinking for themselves, telling the truth or even mastering the basics, like turning up for work on time. So I guess this would be the “lame duck” employer.

The one thing these “lame ducks” never seem to grasp is, there is only one consistent in all their on-going, never-ending problems with employment relationships. Themselves. They don’t seem to look in the mirror and wonder what they could do themselves to change the outcome and get a better result.

Employees – Could you do some training? Get fitter? Write things down so instructions are remembered? Stop taking substances that interfere with work by virtue of hangovers or other effects? Stop being negative about everything other people say? Be willing to listen to your employer, take advice and also to ask for help?

Employers – Could you improve your communication? Have better plans in place like orientation, training, staff meetings? Be interested in making sure your team understand what is needed and have the tools required for the success you want in your business?

“Lame Duck” syndrome refers to those who seem to endlessly repeat the same pattern of behaviours that consistently delivers them with unsatisfactory results, and yet do nothing to break that pattern.

If this has rung some bells for you and you feel you’d like to improve your on-farm employment, then give me a call or flick me an email.




John Brosnan
Human Resources Adviser
CooperAitken Accountants 
DDI 07 889 8838

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