Just a Little More Initiative

I was recently scanning some of the 160 book reviews on our website and came across one particular title that seemed very relevant to many of the situations I’m asked to address for our clients in today’s business culture. This book, Please Don’t Just Do What I Tell You, Do What Needs to Be Done: Every Employee’s Guide to Making Work More Rewarding, appears to be another simple example of “common sense.” However, upon closer examination it’s obviously another example of something that is NOT “common practice.”

Bob Nelson’s book may be short at just 105 pages, but it certainly packs a wallop at a time when it is most urgently needed. In what the author calls The Ultimate Experience, he shares a few very apparent thoughts that far too many of us assume our employees are aware of and practicing regularly. For instance:

  • “You never need permission to do great work.”
  • “Wherever you work, whomever you work for, management expects that you will always use your own best judgment and effort to figure out what needs to be done and then do it without having to be told.”

Sounds almost too evident to point out, doesn’t it? On the other hand, how often do you see these examples practiced in today’s workplace? Maybe we should revisit them as expectations from day one followed by some stringent accountability and topped of with the proper consequences. If this were done properly and more regularly, I’m sure we’d see an increase in productively as well as the many benefits which accompany such behavior. Unmistakably win-win for everyone involved.

The following antiquated generational gem provides a simple but perfect example of this simple philosophy.

Two Brothers and the Geese

Two sons worked for their father on the family’s farm. The younger brother had, for some years, been given more responsibility and rewards, and one day the older brother asked his father to explain why this happened.

The father, hoping to further develop his first born, said, “I’ll be more than happy to explain my decision. First, go to the Jefferson’s farm and see if they have any geese for sale as we need to add to our stock.”

The older brother soon returned with the answer, “Yes, they have five geese they can sell to us.”

The father then said, “Good, please ask them the price.”

The son returned with the answer, “The geese are $10 each.”

The father said, “Good, now ask if they can deliver the geese tomorrow.”

And duly the son returned with the answer, “Yes, they can deliver the geese to us

The father then asked the older brother to wait and listen closely. He then called to the younger brother in a nearby field saying, “Go to Jefferson’s Farm and see if they have any geese for sale as we need to add to our stock.”

The younger brother soon returned with the answer, “Yes, they have five geese for $10 each, or ten geese for $8 each; and they can deliver them tomorrow. I asked them to deliver the five unless they heard otherwise from us in the next hour. I also convinced them that, should we determine a need for the other five, that they will sell them to us at $6 each.”

The father turned to the older son, who nodded his head in appreciation. He now realized why his brother was given more responsibility and rewards.

Which brother would you prefer to have on your payroll?

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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