squirrel with peanut

In the workplace we see a lot of “the peanut technique” and the shouting of “squirrel!” to distract employees by Executives through Supervisors who simply don’t know how to address situations. It’s a waste of time, integrity, and productivity.

The Peanut Technique

The feed store cashier dropped a 10 lb large bag of raw peanuts in their shells, on the counter. The customer dropped about $10 next to the bag, grabbed the bag and left. I stood there wondering why a feed store is selling bags of peanuts when they cater to farmers and the common horse, chicken, pig, dog, cat feed. I sensed the cashier watching my bewilderment as I paused thinking about this. So, I asked – “What’s with the peanuts? Why do you sell them here?”

The cashier smiled, leaned forward on the counter and somewhat secretly said “Well, some people think differently about this…”  Behind him, the other cashier cracked a slight smile and became an observer of the explanation.

“You see,” said the first cashier, some people with bird feeders buy peanuts to keep the squirrels away. It only works on large yards or pieces of property. The owner finds a spot far from the bird feeders and places the peanuts on the ground. The squirrels, loving peanuts, find the feast and congregate in that area of the property, thus leaving the bird feeders alone.” The second cashier is now smiling. I look to him with a “is-this-for-real” look and he adds “yeah, some people say it really works” and added the store sells 12 tons of peanuts a year, followed by a chuckle. Well, I thought to myself, either this is a big joke or the store can say they make a good profit selling —- peanuts.

Then it strikes me how real this is. How many times do we see politicians who don’t want to directly answer a question use, shall I say, “the peanut technique” and direct the conversation to an entirely different answer to a question they preferred to address. 

“Squirrel Shouting”

Then there is the pixar movie “Up” where “Squirrel” is yelled when Dug the dog is distracted.

Does this remind you of distractions in your workplace?

Improve Your Culture

Recognizing the “Squirrel Shouting” or “Peanut Technique” is in play at your organization is the first step to ridding the company of counterproductive behavior. Calling into accountability when this behavior happens and addressing the root cause will either develop good managers or identify inappropriate job placements. Taking the time to look at why this is happening and resolving the issue will raise the following questions:

  • Does the employee need more training?
  • Is this a Peter Principle situation where the employee is in over her/his head?
  • Is the company integrity and culture so vague or unknown that this behavior is ripe to occur?

We all know the truth of matters has no argument. We all know there is a sense of peace when the truth of the matter is recognized and accepted whether or not we like what that truth is. People follow leaders who exhibit true authenticity and live in their truth.  This doesn’t have to be rare. Facing truths, being accountable, and giving up the “Squirrel Shouting” or “Peanut Technique” is free and available to every single one of us. Think of the productivity and peaceful workplaces all could have if we quit “Shouting Squirrel” or throwing peanuts out in the field. What can you do today to reduce the “Squirrel Shouters” in your workplace?

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