Using Animal Metaphors to Create and Maintain Positive Changes in the Workforce


Twenty-first century leaders fully realize that it costs more to recruit a new employee than to manage and retain current employees.  Organizations that must hire and train a new employee for a job produces added costs when replacing an employee who quits because of inappropriate workplace behaviors.  Therefore, managers should never ignore inappropriate employee behavior because even loyal employees leave organizations because of uncomfortable or unsafe work environments.  Managers tend to avoid the painful process of managing employee behavioral problems, much like the head burying ostrich.  This qualitative historical case research study explores trends spanning the past 23 years.  Data reports show increases in inappropriate employee behaviors.  Presented themes use metaphors based upon animal behaviors to offer suggestions for avoiding the subsequent high costs of recruiting new employees, increased litigation costs, and injury or death caused by inappropriate behaviors in the workplace.  Findings of analyzing 23 years of close to 2,000 articles found four major themes described as an animal metaphor of bullying.  The majority of bullying reported fell into the horse kicker bully who practices screaming, hitting, cussing, and otherwise socially unaccepted behavior.  Theme number two found 35% of bullying compares to the subtle and cunning snake.  Theme number three found that 18% of bullies compare to the howling monkey bullying.  Finally, theme number four found that 16% of bullying compares to the ever-talkative parrot bully who takes credit and uses the rumor mill to bully others.

Outlier was a concern with a growing percent of top leaders classified as successful sociopaths or psychopaths.  Solutions to reduce each type of bullying include stop hiring unethical employees by using a more careful analysis of traits; mandate leadership styles such as eliminating the lassiez-faire or dictatorship style; hold employees accountable for actions to stop any bullying; control the actions of managers, meetings, credit given, and the rumor mill; and keep in mind that a lack of action toward bullying is not the same as an anti-bullying policy.  A high level SMACK model is presented to guide leaders on reducing workforce bullying.

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Richard Bame
Kimberly Lowrey
Pamela Ann Gordon
Lili Melton
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Journal of Diversity Management
Clute Institute
Date Published: 
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
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ISSN Number: 
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