Do all employees present the same challenges, are they all equally motivated, do they respond to the same stimuli? Snow White had Seven Dwarfs that sang, “Hi-Ho it’s off to work we go” as they spend their days engaged in productive employment. As a child, we knew of seven happy dwarfs, but as adults, we now learn there were actually ten but it is three additional dwarfs threaten team success.

These three out-of-step workers cause many problems for the seven happy employees. The names of these three problem dwarfs are Halo, Status-quo, and Black Cloud; managing the happy seven is easy but a supervisor earns their pay when dealing with these last three.

The first dwarf, Halo, has an unrealistic desire for perfection. The employee who is striving for quality does not necessarily fit this perfection criterion and does not fully describe Halo. She has a compulsive drive for an illusive state of perfection however; that pursuit is often is at the sake of compromise, co-worker harmony, decreased team success, and creating inertia that slows production.

The philosopher, Voltaire said, “perfect is the enemy of good”, which Famous Quotes describes as “ … to attain a perfect thing, … becomes infinitely more difficult as you near it. So, at some point, you have to cut your losses, and simply say -- "Good enough".”

Supervisors can redirect Halo’s natural desire for perfection toward corporate goals by helping her set achievable objectives and provide clear definitions of success. Without these milestones, Halo’s perfection can rain on any team’s parade.

Halo has a brother named Status Quo who is very resistant to change. In recent years, his stress has increased with the pace of change occasioned by the Global Economy. His main goal is stability, and changes undermine his feeling of safety. Fear of failure is what causes Status Quo’s heel dragging - what if I do the wrong thing or look stupid. Coming from the same fear family, his sister, Halo, fears criticism of her work.

Experienced supervisors search for the solutions to Status-Quo’s fears, provide time to adjust to the change, and gently encourage adjustment. However, until Status-Quo’ fears are quelled, his heel dragging will continue.
The last of the less famous dwarfs is Black Cloud; he is the naysayer of the group that makes Grumpy seem positive. This employee sees his job is to complain and does so with much vigor. Supervisors need people who can recognize problems but this man’s darkness would challenge a saint.

One solution is installing a muzzle on Mr. Cloud but that would only create fertile grounds for more negativity. The black clouds of the workforce seldom want resolution but just want others to participate in their misery. If a supervisor should bite their negative bait, they will find themselves lecturing, defending, hiding, and/or getting hot under the collar around these black clouds. Since you cannot muzzle him, the next best solution for Black Cloud is to hold him responsible by requiring a suggested solution before acknowledging any complain.

Having all employees happily singing the same tune makes a supervisor’s job simple, productive, and less stressful. Having difficult personalities on your team threatens a congenial working force but with understanding and solutions propel teams toward positive motivation and a harmonious work environment. “Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go”.