If the milk of human kindness overflows, it can sometimes turn sour
Generosity is a wonderful human attribute, but it can sometimes backfire. Take care.
How happy were your staff with their Christmas bonuses this year? Did you gain some extra productivity, and how much thanks did you get? Many years ago there was one of those rare years with both record crops and record prices. (It happens at least once in every farmer’s lifetime, so don’t give up hope). Elation at such good fortune, together with the spirit of the impending festive season, overcame me, and I decided to double up on the normal Christmas bonus 13th cheque.
T wo things happened, or didn’t happen, depending on how you look at it. One – didn’t get a single word of thanks from anyone. And two – productivity at the start of the New Year seemed to have gone to hell. Our older and wiser managers put it down to “spoiling” the workforce, although never heard any complaints about having “spoilt” the management. he next year was a normal farming year – bad. Rain at the wrong time; hail in the middle of winter; pests and diseases rife; yields down and prices low. As Christmas approached and looked at the bank balance, wondered whether we could get away with waiving the bonus entirely.
At the mere suggestion, our managers squealed blue murder. We’d have a riot; our workers would leave; everyone would be demotivated; we couldn’t even contemplate it – so we didn’t, and processed the normal 13th cheque. A bout this time word filtered in that the workforce had been delighted with our “new policy” of giving a double Christmas bonus, and were looking forward to the repeat had “promised”! It was complete nonsense and treated it as a bad joke, but sounded out a few supervisors on the source of such a ridiculous story. They were cagey, and a day or so later was confronted by the Works Council chairperson. He swore blind that last December had loudly and unequivocally, in front of all staff, promised double bonuses from then on. was flabbergasted. fought back furiously, denying all knowledge of such a promise by me or any of our management, and calling for evidence that any such thing had ever been said.
Nothing was ever produced, but a few troublemakers on the farm kept the disinformation campaign going, and on payday did their level best to start a wildcat strike. With everyone heading home for the holidays there was little enthusiasm, and, thankfully, it seemed largely forgotten by the New Year. However, for years a few diehards believed we had cheated them.
Generosity is a wonderful human attribute, but it can sometimes backfire. Take care. Expectations are created, and unfulfilled expectations can be a dangerous thing. Don’t make the mistake did – think long and hard about your bonuses and incentives. Anyway, if you got a double bonus this Christmas, say thanks, and don’t put your boss under pressure to repeat it. You never know – it may just happen again. – ([email protected], or call (013) 745 7303). |fw