Productivity and the Seven Dwarfs

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work they go. But honestly, it’s a wonder Snow White’s seven dwarfs ever get anything done at all. Together they represent clear-cut examples of some of the biggest workplace productivity killers. And, even though they spend their days deep inside a mine, the lessons they teach us about some key workplace behaviors to watch out for translate well to the office.

Take Sneezy, for example. Nothing kills productivity like trying to work when you’re under the weather. You’re tired and achy, and it’s nearly impossible to focus on anything but the steadily growing mountain of tissue in the trashcan. Sneezy needs to be at home and in bed with a bowl of chicken noodle soup. A couple days of rest will heal the body much more quickly than trying to power through an illness at work. And, other employees won’t have to worry about germs being spread around the office.

Sleepy, on the other hand, obviously feels tired and overworked from all the late nights and double shifts he’s been pulling. Long hours, day-in and day-out can take a toll on anyone – especially when you’re a 3-foot-tall miner. Everyone has a breaking point and will eventually need some downtime to recharge. It’s hard to give 110% everyday when the body is running on empty.

Then there’s Dopey. What can we say about Dopey? He has the best of intentions and truly wants to do a good job. Unfortunately he has no clue what’s going on. Dopey lacks the training and experience necessary to do his job and is constantly falling behind and holding up progress. When team members get in over their heads, it’s important to take notice. The fix could be as simple as suggesting an employee take a couple extra training classes on the weekend or as severe as replacing them completely.

Next, there’s Doc, the know-it-all, self-appointed leader. He likes to hear himself talk and probably assumes everyone else does too. And, while he is a strong employee and shows potential for leadership down the road, his authoritative personality can be overbearing on team projects. Everyone’s input is valuable, and though it is important to have someone who can lead a team, it’s also important to be sure everyone has an opportunity to offer their two cents and feels that their ideas will be considered.

Everyone likes Happy. And, why wouldn’t you? He’s a great guy. Always telling jokes and sharing stories in the break room, at a co-worker’s desk, or out front at the reception area. And, he always has the best e-mail forwards. But, when exactly does he do any work? Everyone loves the office clown, but when it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get some serious work done, it’s important to have full commitment from every member of the team. Productivity suffers when you’re constantly forced to refocus an overly social teammate.

Bashful, however, has it all figured out. He has big ideas that could really impact the way the company operates. He sees what the others miss and knows exactly what needs to happen to keep projects on track. And, if he wasn’t so afraid to speak up during planning meetings, he could really make a significant impact on business. Don’t keep great ideas bottled up. Be confident and speak up. And, if an idea gets shot down by the rest of the group, don’t fret. Bad ideas often times serve as inspiration for good ones.

And finally, there’s Grumpy. He’s been doing the same job for years. He has a system that works and sees no need to make any adjustments. So, when new co-workers come in with bright ideas, he’s quick to dismiss them without a moment of consideration. While there is value in maintaining consistency in your processes, change is good and it’s inevitable for any successful business. When team members who are set in their ways are unwilling to try a new approach, productivity often falls apart.

When you look at it on paper, the seven dwarfs are a productivity nightmare, but somehow they make it work. And that’s the important part. They know each other’s inefficiencies and are able to adapt their strengths and weaknesses to build the strongest team possible. So, remember to keep an eye out for productivity killers in your workplace, and when they come up don’t hesitate to address them.

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8 Responses to Productivity and the Seven Dwarfs

  1. jill September 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    we have had several drawfs
    Having them leave usually is best
    explain to them is hard as they dont see there own faults or were production is effected leading to layoffs..

  2. Nemesio September 10, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    Of course as in real life, these are assumptions. Perhaps we should look into their personal lives. None of them have wives, girlfriend or kids. None of them have a title or are in any way supervising the other dwarfs. None of them go to the bar after work, they live toghether and own nothing even though they work hard in a mine.

    • Mike September 14, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

      If you ask me – sounds like the dwarfs had it made 🙂

    • Carmen September 15, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

      I love your response! Always nice to see some levity and balanced perspective. And a reminder that despite all of our expertise in leadership development, we often don’t do as we say we should and suggest other leaders should…which is to act on assumptions!

  3. Yancey the BasicEmployeeRights Advocate September 13, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    If I remember the story, there is also a wicked queen. How does the wicked queens persona fit into this workplace example? She is always scheming to be manipulative, exploitative,intimidating, bullying and deceptive. This describes many workplace management cultures.

    The “wicked queen” can ALSO be “some of the biggest workplace productivity killers”. This culture of incompetent management can cause low morale, anemic productivity and distrust. How? By routinely and blatantly violating the Basic Employee Rights of its employees.

    That’s why the seven dwarfs shouldn’t compound there own unique troubles by remaining ignorant of their rights in the workplace!

  4. Gerardo October 5, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    If you laugh about any of the dwarves while reading this article it most likely is because it hit home. Awareness is only 50% of the cure!

  5. Daniel June 21, 2017 at 5:21 am #

    Great article. But was to unsure why this website is blocked in my country (Australia)

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