Breaking Goldsmith’s Rule: Five Common-Sense Ways to Help Maintain the Best Possible Team

“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” – Goldsmith’s Rule, per Sir James Goldsmith, British industrialist.

Who’s responsible for maintaining the quality of your workplace team?

The answer might seem obvious, but don’t assume it’s just the team leader. Your manager or supervisor may have a lot of input, and certainly they or a predecessor probably built the team in the first place; but they’re not in complete control of team quality. Everyone on the team has a place in maintaining a highly-productive team. By now, you surely realize that even if you’re not the team lead, you can do many things to contribute to your team’s productivity.

But let’s look at a special case. Suppose you want fellow top-notch co-workers to stay on your team long-term. That way, you won’t have to constantly break in new employees—a disruptive and, therefore, unproductive process. If everyone’s happy to stay, you’ll all benefit from the smooth functioning of a group that’s worked together for years and whose members know each other well.

Paying employees “peanuts” may net your organization high-quality employees right out of the box (i.e. college), but it won’t keep them for long, and it won’t attract experienced A-listers. If that were all that mattered, you’d end up with nothing but the plodders, the troublemakers, and the dysfunctional, per what I call Goldsmith’s Rule (see the beginning quote). But fortunately, quality of life within the workplace is also important.

Unless you control the purse-strings—and I’m assuming you don’t—the only feasible way you can encourage good workers to stay is to keep them happy. The best way to do that is to help them enjoy what they do, hoping they become so engaged in their work that they own their jobs and willingly contribute their strongest efforts to the organization… regardless of pay. At that point, high productivity becomes more likely.

Here are a few ways anyone in a work team can help engage and retain great workers:

  1. Interact positively with your teammates. You spend almost half your waking life with your co-workers. Do you enjoy dealing with sourpusses, naggers, gripers, and curmudgeons? No? Neither does anyone else. If you present a dour or annoying attitude to the rest of the office, determine to change. If you’re not sure how you’re perceived, ask someone you can trust to be blunt. Become a bright spot—a teammate others enjoy dealing with.

  2. Help make your office a fun place to work. You don’t have to take up slapstick comedy, but you can decorate your space cheerfully and even appoint yourself Morale Officer—or suggest to your leader you take up the mantle. Celebrate accomplishments, anniversaries, and birthdays with your teammates, and organize the occasional team lunch. You can even treat each of your teammates to lunch individually so you can get to know them better.

  3. Work with a sense of purpose and pride. One way to encourage job engagement in others is to act as a shining example. Do your job with pizzazz, come to work and immediately dive in, don’t dawdle, and show pride in your accomplishments and in how you’ve moved the team and organization forward. If you’re obviously engaged, it may encourage some co-workers to do so as well.

  4. Request training to improve your performance and the team’s. If productivity is lagging, it may be because you and your team members need to brush-up on your skills, or require extra training to effectively work with new programs or hardware. Should leadership have no training planned, suggest it. Your teammates may not appreciate it at the time, but they will later, when their productivity star rises.

  5. Support your teammates when they need help. If someone is lagging or going through a bad patch, pitch in and help in any way reasonably possible—even if it’s only as a cheerleader. Just don’t let your own work suffer, and don’t do so much they come to depend on your help.

A Fact’s a Fact

At least one large study has proven Goldsmith’s Rule. You may not be able to influence a co-worker’s pay, but you can do your best to make your working environment so pleasant they want to stay—thereby limiting the number of monkeys you’ll have to deal with. If you break Goldsmith’s Rule with panache, the pay-scale may soon shift towards the better as productivity soars—and you won’t have to worry about the repercussions of peanuts-pay any longer.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland