Sunday | 2.18.2018
  Home  |  Current Issue  |  Subscribe Free  |  RSS News Feed   |  Sample Newsletter  |  Business Radio  |  Archives  |  Site Map

Sometimes A “Selfish Employee” May Be The Best Type Of Staff Member

While there may not be an ‘I’ in team, there is a ‘me’.

“Me” oriented employees are often ignored, shunned and negated because there is a common misperception that a selfish person makes for an unmanageable employee.

Managers often seek the “all for one and one for all” type of employee, ignoring the “me” oriented staffer.

One expert believes organizations don’t pay positive attention to the ‘me’ oriented employees and ignores them at their own peril.

By doing this, Moe Glenner believes companies miss on the opportunity to gain highly self-motivated team members whose working end result will significantly benefit the organization.

Glenner is the founder and president of PURELogistics, a leading consulting firm that specializes in organizational change.

“The selfish employee can actually be the hardest working member of the team,” he says.

“However, managers do need to distinguish between the selfish employee and the obstinate employee. A selfish employee is seeking satisfaction of their personal drivers. They are willing to do the work and sometimes even ‘go beyond’ in their personal driver satisfaction efforts. A selfish employee is not obstinate or insubordinate, rather focused on attaining their personal goals. By providing the path to this satisfaction, an employer can harness this selfish motivation for the greater good of the organization.”

Glenner says “we need to delineate between selfish and obstinate. Selfish employees possess a certain tenaciousness that allows them to achieve their goals to satisfy their wants and desires.

He contrasts it with an obstinate employee who is, according to Glenner, “someone that refuses to do the work assigned and frequently conjures up avoidance methods. There may be many reasons for this resistance, such as confusion and fear, but left unaddressed this employee will create serious risk for the continuing viability of the team.”

Glenner’s solution is to attack engage this type of employee through relevant, timely and constant communication.

“Through this approach, an obstinant employee can be transformed into a productive team member. We must discover and deliver on these motivators to both harness the power of the selfish employee and transform the obstinate ones,” he adds.

However, motivation doesn’t exist in a vacuum nor is it isolated or coincidental. The progressive organizational/team leader understands that motivation is created and harnesses through careful delivery of personal drivers. In other words, being able to deliver on each team member’s Personal Return on Investment (PROI).

Glenner believes a grand bargain must be made with each team member. In exchange for their active personal investment, manifested by cooperation, participation and contribution, the company will provide to them a personal return.

Glenner believes the key is to understand the nature of those personal returns. “For some it may be public recognition, enhanced status within the company, promotion opportunities, increased compensation or even just an easier and/or more efficient way to accomplish everyday tasks. There may be more than one return for a single person and there may be other returns not enumerated above. Either way, it behooves the attentive and progressive team leader to be able to deliver on these returns,” says Glenner.

While employers give significant credence to the team-oriented employee, they frequently overlook the value of the selfish employee. This is a common mistake. While the team-oriented employee ostensibly operates for the greater good, they ignore their own personal drivers. It is likely that their motivation levels will drop-off at some future time.

The selfish employee is motivated by their own personal drivers. Satisfy those drivers and deliver on the PROI and that employee will continue indefinitely with a high level of self-motivation.

By finding the PROI of team members, communicating to them the path for achieving them, and then delivering on the company’s end of the grand bargain, a team of selfish employees can indeed be an organization’s best friend and powerful tool for continued success.

Moe Glenner He earned his MBA at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification from Villanova University. Glenner's new book, Selfish Altruism: Managing & Executing Successful Change Initiatives ($13.95 | Amazon), examines the role personal motivation plays in change. For more information, visit


© 2018, Information Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 315, Ridgefield, NJ 07657