Crabs In A Bucket

Have you heard the story of what happens when you put crabs in a bucket? If has some parallels to the workplace.

As the story goes, if you put one crab in a bucket, it will quickly climb out of the bucket and escape. If you put two crabs in the bucket, as one attempts to climb out, the other will grab it with its claws and pull it back in. The presence of multiple crabs means none of them can escape.

Some people act in exactly the same way. If they see someone doing well or getting recognition, they try to figure out what will bring them down. When other workers are making more money or have better working conditions, they chose to try to take away their wages or conditions. Just like the crabs, they try to pull everyone back to mediocrity.

Instead, why not try to see how everyone can get the additional things the others have? If they find ways to better their situation without damaging others, everyone can benefit.

Sound unlikely? It’s because you may be used to playing win-lose games. For you to win, others have to lose. For you to win more, the others have to give up more. The outcome can be destruction.

To move past this, switch to win-win strategies A great way to accomplish this is through employee engagement. If you involve people from throughout the workplace in finding ways to improve the work system, everyone can win.

This means we bring together the best possible team we can, train them in how to work together, and give them the opportunity to identify and solve problems. Everyone on the team is an equal, regardless of their job titles, and each will be expected to share information and express their views on the issues being discussed.

The result is an environment where everyone works for the benefit of all, not pitting people or groups against each other. The groups with which we have worked to build this approach have been able to boost profits and productivity, enhance customer service, reduce safety risks, improve communications and cohesiveness in the workplace, and make jobs more relevant.

By utilizing the efforts of everyone to improve the workplace, we demonstrate we value people and want to help them move ahead. We are no longer like the crabs that keep others from moving ahead.

After all, remember what will happen to the crabs in the bucket.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
This entry was posted in CALMC, Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee, Conflict Resolution, Customer Service, Employee Engagement, Employee Involvement, Labor-Management Committees, Labor-Management Cooperation, Systemic change, Teamwork and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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