It seems that ya’all want to talk a bit about religion lately.

So, I’m posting a little parable I’ve written. If you aren’t into parables, ignore it.

There was a business owed by a businessman named Joe who lived in Zaire. As Joe lived very far away, he provided a very detailed Employee Manual about how to run the business.

The manual told his employees how the operations would be. It told what materials to use, where to buy them, how to make the product, and what type of marketing to use. It even told the employees what the packaging would look like and how it would be priced.

The manual told the employees how to conduct the business. It had the start time, when breaks would be and for how long. It told employees when they would take vacation and for how long. The rules even had some very strict demands including a dress code telling employees what clothes to wear, what colors were acceptable, and what fabrics could be worn. Employees were even required to meet at 4:45 every Friday to sing the national anthem of Zaire.

The business was very hierarchical and had rigid rules about who answered to whom. Forms had to be completed, in triplicate, and in an exacting manner. There were many many rules and all were included in the Employee Manual.

All employees of the business were required to sign a contract that they would abide by all of the rules of the Manual. If they broke any rules, there were stiff fines or even termination of employment.

One day, Joe returned from Zaire and called a meeting of all of the employees. “I have realized that I love my employees”, Joe said. “And I think of you as family”

I also realize”, he continued, “that you haven’t all lived up to my rules, though you have tried. But that’s OK. I’m not going to enforce any fines or penalties. Instead, I am going to ask you to sign a new contract for a new Employee Manual.” He then passed out a new Employee Manual.

When the employees opened their manual, they read the following:

Rule 1. When you do your work, keep the business in mind and work for the business’ interest.

Rule 2. Work with others the way you want them to work with you.

“What?”, cried one employee, “we don’t have to wear certain clothes or sing the anthem of Zaire?”

“No.”, Joe replied, laughing. “Just be a good employee and make me proud.”

The employees were very happy and gladly signed the new contract. After all, the anthem of Zaire is difficult to sing and some of them couldn’t carry a tune.

And so Joe went back to Zaire and the employees went back to work. And things went along fine for a while.

But the managers of the company began to worry. What if an employee did not meet a certain production level, would all employees then not meet their goals? Or what if there was a slow down of some sort, a manager might have to stay late!

One day an employee named Fred came in and told his manager that he had an idea for a new product. “No!”, said the manager, worried he might be responsible if the product didn’t sell well. “That isn’t in the contract.”

“But we have a new contract”, Fred said, “and it allows for changes”.

“No,” said the manager, “those are only business changes. Operation rules must be followed. Joe said to be a Good Employee and that means doing what Joe wants. And we know what products Joe wants, because they’re listed in the first contract. You obviously aren’t a Good Employee, so you’re fired”. And Fred left sadly, because he like working for Joe.

Another day an employee named Sam came in and told his manager that he needed to take his daughter to her first day of school and would be 15 minutes late the next day. “My department is far ahead of the production schedule and my co-workers can cover for me,” he told his manager.

But the manager knew that the old contract did not allow for any time late at all. “How can you ask for such a thing?” he demanded. “Don’t you know that a Good Employee will keep the business in mind? And that means following the work time rules in the first contract. You are not a Good Employee, you’re fired.”

Soon the managers met and decided what rules from the old contract were in the best interest of the business and which ones they did not want to follow (mostly the ones that required that they do paperwork). They sent out a memo that said

These are the rules that Joe wants followed (if he didn’t want these followed, why would they be in the first contract?)…

And it listed the rules. The Zaire national anthem was not one of them. But all of the rules about when to work, what to do, and how to answer to management were on this list.

Over time, any creative people with new ideas were fired. So too were those that had any special need that caused them to be unable to follow some rule. The company was soon back to a very rigid hierarchy that operated in an expected manner and was easy to manage.

Unexpected, Joe showed up one day. He walked around the business with the managers and asked them “Why aren’t there new products to meet the changing demands of the market?”.

“But we are making the products you requested”, they replied.

“And where are Fred and Sam and the others that I love?” asked Joe.

“They didn’t follow the rules you gave us, so we fired them,” answered the managers.

Joe looked at his managers and sadly said, “You have driven off my best employees. You did not look out for my best interest. You have not treated each other in the way you wanted to be treated.”

I gave you two rules, only two. And you could not follow those two rules. Instead, you have made others follow a whole list of rules which you selected.”

And so Joe fired the managers. He went out and found Fred and Sam and the others that the managers had driven from the company and brought them back and gave them bonuses.

Categorized in:

Tagged in: