|Overview: Catfish Management|
|Definition||Using competition between peers to boost employee motivation and engagement.|
|Related Concepts||Competitive AdvantageManagementMotivationBoreout|
What is Catfish Management?
John Spacey, September 20, 2016
Catfish management is the theory that intensive competition keeps employees vibrant and motivated. It is based on a story about a Norwegian fisherman who was able to provide live sardines at market when other fisherman struggled to keep their catches alive in tanks while at sea. Live sardines were valued for their freshness and fetched more than twice the price at market. The fisherman kept his technique secret to the end of his life. His crew eventually revealed that the fisherman kept a catfish in his tanks to chase the sardines. This threat kept the fish more active and enabled them to survive long sea journeys. In the context of an organization, catfish management describes the practice of encouraging competition between teams and individuals. Competition is often depicted as brutal and unfriendly. The catfish management theory suggests that this isn't true, that competition invigorates a career. In contrast, employees who have a job for life, a stable salary and a predictable bonus may become lethargic and unhappy.
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