In nature, a hornet’s nest is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It’s simply the home of a queen and up to 700 workers.
In the workplace, a hornet’s nest is not such a good thing. The phrase ‘stir up a hornet’s nest’ means to create a lot of trouble.
Sometimes a new leader will accidently stir up a hornet’s nest. She knows that something isn’t right. She doesn’t actually kick the hornet’s nest; she just pokes it with a stick. The result of a poking is the same as a full-style soccer kick. The hornets come out angry and mad – trouble has been stirred up!
Is that a bad thing?
Not necessarily … it’s probably not the smartest thing that could have been done … and if it wasn’t done with malice, it can be enlightening.
If you stir up a hornet’s nest for the purpose of finding a problem’s root cause, then it can be helpful. Territorial boundaries are revealed. Operational weaknesses and system breakdowns become evident. Helpful versus destructive comments are distinguishable.
Hornet’s nests have no useful function in the workplace. They need to be exterminated.
Kicking a hornet’s nest on purpose is dangerous and destructive.
Giving a hornet’s nest a little poke for the purpose of understanding what you’re dealing with is sometimes necessary.
When you’re a new leader and you accidently kick a hornet’s nest, you’d best pay attention and be prepared to take quick and decisive action. The nest needs to be eliminated – quickly.
Have you ever kicked a hornet’s nest?