Loyal employees are committed to the success of any evil organization. In this economy, many roving bands of cutthroats are finding themselves in a tough position that may call for layoffs and cutbacks, not to mention sacrifices of other sorts. Unhappy, uninterested, unwashed barbarian employees can lead to poor productivity and high turnover rates, costing supervillains valuable time and gold when it comes to refilling pillager positions and repurposing associates into new roles. While it is difficult to let any of your marauders go, you are naturally unwilling to let your best talent to start worrying about the brigade's stability and entertaining thoughts that perhaps they either ought to check into opportunities elsewhere, perhaps facilitated by your own demise.
- Expectations. As the person in command, set correct expectations from the very start. Let your brigands know how they should carry out their job functions and what they can expect from your organization in return. If part of their compensation package is fixed (salary, benefits, vacation) and part is performance-dependent (shares of loot and slaves, "looter of the month" awards, promotion opportunities), make it clear to them how this is to be measured so they can set their behavior accordingly. If you set the bar high but keep the goal realistic, your barbarian employees will work harder to achieve it.
- Discipline. If one of the best ways to boost employee morale is to reward hard work, another is to penalize the "slackers" in the group — the ones are always riding in late or showing up hungover on a regular basis and getting away with it. Hold them accountable for their performance and address shortcomings immediately. Keep the sanctions low at first in order to give the offenders a chance to reform, but let it be known that repeated mischief will lead to escalated punishment, meted out by their peers. This way the best performers on your staff will know that their own fidelity to the horde is appreciated.
- Recognition. When your minions demonstrate desired behaviors such as breaching a gate or abducting a nobleman, promptly give them a pat on the back in front of their peers. Not a literal pat on the back, of course, which may trigger the wrong sort of reflexes. Reward accomplishments liberally and often, offering desired perks and bonuses that make the job worth more. Be willing to record the accomplishment in writing, if the individual is in fact literate. The life of a barbarian is often brutish, nasty, and short, and you should be willing to show your top personnel by contrast that you are willing to invest in their futures.
- Communication. Adopt an open, clear and frequent communication policy with your barbarian troop, sharing business updates, upcoming raids, resolution of conflict among the ranks, and other areas of concern. Insofar as it does not jeopardize mission security, more communication is always better than not enough. Give employees a chance to voice their opinions, perhaps through multiple choice surveys or by painting effigies on their shields. Base policy decisions on the results you glean. It is an exciting morale booster to implement life or death decisions based on the input of your line troops. Just avoid giving away the awful truth about the imminent destruction of this happy state of affairs to any who would listen.
- One big family. Break bread with the barbarians, ask about their families and concubines, and visit them at their work areas. In other words, show them that you care about them personally and that you respect their contributions to the bottom line. If they request something, such as flexibility in scheduling or a line of credit, hear them out even if you are unable to provide exactly what they are asking for, and if you can provide a compromise, do so quickly and decisively. If they suggest changes to how things are done, praise them for the effort to contribute, as this creates a sense of ownership.
Strokes of genius
- Mentoring. Old and grizzled veterans are particularly good mentors for new recruits to help them get up to speed quickly and feel that they are part of the band. If the oldster is the kind of person who complains excessively over anything and everything with a woe is me syndrome the main text from which they draw, endowed with smelly armpits and filthy armor, displaying rudeness in public places by burping or pass gas, that one is just the kind of worker you do not want to have involved with anything more critical where they are likely to sap the strength of your really productive staff, anyway, so give them this task instead.
- Equipment. One of the main complaints among workers is broken down or outmoded tools they need to accomplish their job functions. If your goons are working hard to meet deadlines and find new booty, but they don't have what they require, they are likely to become frustrated and disheartened. In simple cases, this means nothing more difficult stripping the corpses of enemies of anything that might be of use. Other scenarios may call for more specialized and difficult to obtain items such as healing talismans or underwater breathing apparatus, so plan for these long in advance.
- The doom part. Breaking bad news to those you work closely with as part of a team is difficult. In some cases, there is no tactful way to let a barbarian horde know of the extremely slim chances of survival they have while still preserving unit cohesion and your own life. Rather than burden them with the whole awful situation, it is better to manage events so that the higher mission is sustained through to a point where it is too late for them to cut and run. Above all, one is best advised not to let them figure things out for themselves.
Traps for mere fools
- Religious issues. Sometimes an employee will bring a problem with curses to the workplace and let it affect his or her output. If you can help lift or lessen the curse by appealing to your own deity, make every effort to do so. This will let your pagan employees know that you care about them as individuals and not just the work they produce.
- Downsizing. If you have to let a barbarian go because of poor performance or a heinous breach of professional ethics (a dismissal for cause), communicate the reason as soon as possible without going into details to the remaining warriors. Oftentimes they will understand this through signs they themselves had observed beforehand, and this will be received with relief rather than with a sense of forboding. Use exit interviews when employees are separated from the company through mutual arrangement, if possible, so that you will have insight as to the reasons why and can make any adjustments, if warranted.
- Resentment. Strive to maintain a positive professional relationship with the fighters. In most cases, the main reason why associates leave an organization is because of negative experiences with their peers and supervisors that lead to a sense of unfair treatment. If you have to apply discipline, communicate by your words and manner that the matter is not personal, it is simply a matter of business. In this way, they will trust and respect your authority, and tend to stay.
Precious and needful
- Marching songs.
- Sour mead. And other mood alterants.
- Wand of awful mystic power.
- How to defend against magic swords and other weapons
- How to conceal weapons
- How to run a police state
- How to get rid of a corpse
- How to lie to someone's face
- How to make the voices of your victims stop
- How to plan a mass grave
- How to pillage a city
- How to betray your master
- How to build a head collection on a budget
- How to clone an army
- How to recruit and retain henchmen
- How to make a cluestick
- How to understand warrior maidens
- Image credit Vikings on the beach at Felixstowe by A.D.A. ~ Anna Duncan Art
- Image credit Sarmatian Cavalry by Kaptain Kobold
- Image credit Pox by Eleonora Sonsdottir