The Decorator Crab is found in various parts of the ocean, and has a lot to teach us about the way the workplace can affect performance. As all living things have predators of sorts, the Decorator Crab survives and avoids its predators by camouflaging or blending into its environment. This crab will collect items found in its habitat, such as corals, anemones, sponges, and various algae, and attach them to their shell using a hook appendage. Their collection will eventually grow attached and permanently change the look of the crab. When I began thinking about how this species relates to the workplace, I had two totally separate insights that I think are valuable lessons. As such, this blog will be presented in Part One: Finding a Positive Work Environment, and Part Two: Standing Out at Work.
Part One: Finding a Positive Work Environment
After reading a book called The No Asshole Rule, it was plain to see some parallel concepts being presented and the Decorator Crab. The No Asshole Rule suggests that if you work in an environment full of caustic, lazy, or negative peers, you will inevitable, and without intentions, adopt those traits yourself. I imagine there have been many a crab who have chosen to put items from the sea floor on their shell that they don’t particularly want to be a part of them or think will be a positive addition to their appearance. Similarly, I’ve seen firsthand, both for myself and for others, bad habits developed and undesirable characteristics acquired. These new traits are often permanent or hard to be rid of and will stay with an individual as they move from one workplace to another. As a person adds various negatives from their workplace, it becomes even more difficult to be accepted and wanted in a new environment. This insight led me to the conclusion that we should all take a close look at our work environment to understand if it is adding to our “shell” in a positive way, and what we as individuals are contributing to the environment.
Part Two: Standing Out at Work
There are employees in the work environment who, like this crab, act in a survival mode. They are worried about being laid-off or given extra assignments and responsibilities, and don’t want to challenge the status quo. They too, try to blend in and act in fear of change or challenge. I’m sure you can think of someone just like this right now! The downside of this scenario is they are quickly passed up when opportunities arise. Literally, the chances float right by! What every work environment, and organization for that matter, needs is people who are willing to stick it out through hard times, get noticed, and take risks. While the Decorator Crab can only win from blending in, we can only lose.