Mutiny on the Bounty….it’s human nature

One thing about human nature… it never changes. From Adam and Eve to you and me, we’re still the same. In my post of May 9th, I identified four key subjects affecting your employee’s performance – what’s in it for me, human nature, exchanging time for money, and fatal flaws. Today we’ll explore human nature a little further.

On Saturday I was reading a fascinating account of Captain Bligh and the famous mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty, which occurred on April 28, 1789. One of the contributors to the article, Mr. Robert Webb, described the atmosphere aboard this way – “Bounty was awash in competing interests and Bligh’s management style was unable to unite the men in the common cause”, (my emphasis). Looking back, I can’t tell you how many corporate situations I have seen that could not be better described… as being awash in competing interests…and no unity of cause. Achieving truly shared interests and unity of cause among all employees in a business environment is a rare, but compelling environment when you experience it.

Most of the theories on human motivation share this common denominator – people are motivated by self-interest. I don’t like the statement, it doesn’t sound good, but it is probably accurate in most cases, and best expressed as, what’s in it for me? So, if that is part of human nature, how do we align the performance of the organization with the self-interest of the individual? Or as I suspect Mr. Webb would say… how do you eliminate competing interests and UNITE the men (employees) in common cause?

A complete answer would require a book to describe, hummm. But for a blog post, I am limited to highlights.  Aligning corporate performance with employee self-interest requires –

  • Clear vision (where we going)
  • Visible and engaged leadership, on the floor, in the trenches
  • Specific, company-wide (or facility) tactical goals – 3 or 4 maximum
  • Appropriate tools and resources to achieve the goals
  • Drop dead timelines
  • Constant progress reporting, a “live scoreboard”
  • Real time, meaningful, shared reward for success

This is not an exhaustive list, but a reasonable start. You have to create an environment where emotion exists. There has to be an emotional reaction to winning or losing. If not, then you are simply exchanging time for money, and employees are performing well below their potential. I will discuss this further in my next post.

On a separate note – the economic news continues to be challenging.  If your business conditions are flat, we have specific methods and strategies that will enable you to meet current demand with 10 to 30% fewer employees. Conversely, if your volume is growing, these same tools would enable you to handle 10 t0 30% more volume, without hiring or more overtime. With this much market and government uncertainty, run as lean as you possibly can, utilizing every available, reasonable means to do so. We can help.


About Karl F. Muller

Specializing in driving Organizational Performance to new levels. Utilizing a tactical and focused four (4) part strategy to engage all employees in the pursuit and achievement of performance and real financial results. Applicable to manufacturing, service, distribution and corporate services groups. We have worked throughout North America with businesses and facilities ranging from 50 to 5,000 employees, union/non-union. Define... Measure... Pursue... Reward. Celebrating our 30th year. 200 public speaking engagements, 5,500 senior managers trained, 700 organizations assessed. We are serious, tactical, focused. No fancy corporate speak, no blue suits. Just Results. The Muller Group, Inc.
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