Employees and the 80/20 rule

Kyle Kirkland
“If you’re Noah, and your ark is about to sink…you can throw over a bunch of cats, dogs, squirrels and your ark will keep sinking. But if you can find one elephant to get overboard, you’re in much better shape.” — Vilfredo Pareto

In the early 1900s, Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, reflected on his garden and observed a subset of his peapods were prodigious — 20% of the peapods contained 80% of the peas. He later expanded his observations and noted that to 20% of Italians owned 80% of property in the country. His Pareto distribution (the law of the vital few) has since been applied to all social and economic behavior — sports (20% of combatants win 80% of prizes), software (20% of bugs cause 80% of crashes), health care (20% of patients consume 80% of hospital resources) and crime (20% of miscreants commit 80% of crimes).

If your workforce is like most, 20% of the crew needs little or no supervision. They show up on time, follow workplace time/attendance and performance standards and are policed by their own personal principles and initiative. The middle 60% generally meet your standards for time/attendance and performance but need some supervision to stay on track. The last 20% are what we’ll call the ‘headaches” — employees with time/attendance, performance or attitude issues who need constant attention to stay in alignment. The problem is containing this bottom 20% so they don’t monopolize your attendance or sour the productivity or morale of your workplace.

You can’t change Pareto’s principle but you can contain the problematic 20% of your workforce through effective documentation. Your response to the activities of the “headaches” can result in a challenge to your decision-making by the employee, other managers or worse — state agencies and litigators. As a result, it’s imperative that you document employee performance for later reference in coaching, counseling and defense. If you want to reward your superstars and check your scoundrels…document early and often. Remember, in the eyes of state agencies and judges everywhere, if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.

is a simple, cloud-based software tool designed to help managers document and reference staff issues. Sure, you can cobble together emails, counseling forms and Post-It notes and hope for the best at an EDD appeals hearing. Alternatively, you can use JobStats to document and organize employee incidents and your response. JobStats also offers a variety of useful features including training and certification reminders, counseling tools and records retention, but its timeline of employee issues — incidents and responses — will be your best defense against workplace challenges. If you operate a business in California (and we do), you have a high likelihood of facing an employment-related challenge at some point. Limit your downside — aggravation, anxiety and defense costs — with documentation tools in JobStats and get back to making your better burger, beer or boutique hotel.

About the author

Kyle Kirkland is President of Brick HR, Inc., the developer of JobStats documentation software. As owner, President and General Manager of Club One Casino in Fresno, California, Mr. Kirkland has extensive experience managing employees in gaming, food and beverage, facilities, security, administration and managerial positions. He has direct experience in dealing with the challenges California employers face and how to mitigate the related risk. Mr. Kirkland is also the president of the California Gaming Association, a non-profit trade association which represents California cardrooms.

Prior to joining the gaming industry, Mr. Kirkland served as the chairman of Steinway Musical Instruments, the world-renowned musical instrument manufacturer, a position he held for 17 years. Earlier in his career, Mr. Kirkland worked at Bain & Company, an international management consulting firm and Drexel Burnham Lambert, an investment bank specializing in high yield securities. Mr. Kirkland has served on the boards of several public and private companies and non-profit organizations.

Mr. Kirkland holds an A.B. degree from Harvard College magna cum laude in Economics and an MBA degree from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

He can be reached at kyle@jobstatsapp.com.


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