Employee Issues, Gorillas, and Other Monkey Business – Pick Dave’s Brain

This week’s question comes from Rafael of San Paulo, Brazil.

Q: In one of your seminars you said if you have an employee that’s causing problems, you should hold them to strict standards. But does that really work?

Click to tweet this: Having a conversation with your “gorilla” might be the missing link tin saving an irreplaceable employee. @DaveCrenshaw

Video transcript:

Are cages good for gorillas? I’m Dave Crenshaw and it’s time to Pick Dave’s Brain!

This week’s question comes from Rafael.


Hi Dave, here’s Rafael from San Paulo Brazil.

Some days ago I had the great opportunity to attend one of your lectures in Chicago and I had a doubt. If I put my gorilla in a cage, is it possible to change his mindset?

Thank you!

Dave Crenshaw:

Great question, Rafael.

He’s referring to what I talked about in both my speech and book, The Focused Business. The “Gorilla” is someone in your company who’s very strong, who has lots of great attributes. But they also make a mess everywhere that they go.

And, as I said in my presentation, there are two ways to deal with the gorilla. You can either cage them or you can release them into the wild. By caging them, I mean you give them a clear set of boundaries and rules that they need to follow. And by releasing them into the wild, I mean…well…you fire them.

Now your question, Rafael, is can we really rehabilitate a Gorilla by putting them into a cage? The odds of this happening are about—well, the same as flipping a coin. If you flip a coin, you get about a fifty-fifty result. That’s about the same result you’re going to get by putting the gorilla in the cage.

The act of having the conversation with them of just leveling with them and saying, “Look, we need you to change your performance and I am going to measure how you progress over the next few weeks.” That conversation can often be a wake-up call. And if you can rehabilitate a gorilla, that’s far better than firing them of course, because they are

And if you can rehabilitate a gorilla, that’s far better than firing them of course, because they are a great employee. So, I think it’s worth a shot at putting them into a cage first. Then if it doesn’t work out, you can feel confident that you gave it your best shot of having them continue to work for the company.

Thanks for the question, Rafael.

If you want to pick Dave’s brain, you can ask your question by clicking on the button underneath this video. Or simply go to DaveCrenshaw.com/ask.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

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