On a weekend a mirasdar (a big land-owner) went to his mango orchard accompanied by his son. The resident guard received them and conducted them around the numerous fruit-bearing trees in the orchard. At the end of it, the visitors rested in a hut and called on the guard to fetch some mangoes.
When the mangoes came, the mirasdar and his son feasted on the ripe, juicy and sweet fruits. Verily food of the gods.
They happily took leave and made to the second orchard nearby also owned by the mirasdar.
Here again, he ordered the guard working in this orchard to get some mangoes.
When the mangoes came, the mirasdar took one bite and rejected them: ‘These taste sour, get some sweet ones.’
The guard brought a second lot.
These too were set aside by the visitors as not sweet.
A few more rounds happened of the guard fetching the fruits and their rejection by the mirasdar.
Finally the mirasdar and his son got up to leave disappointed at not having had good mangoes.
The mirasdar pulled up the guard: ‘You’ve been working here now for over a year. Don’t you enough to identify trees with sweet fruits?’
The guard politely told him: ‘Sir, frankly, I’ve not tasted these fruits myself. I see you paying me to guard the orchard against pilferage of fruits and not for tasting them.’
The son drew himself up to admonish the guard, but was restrained by the mirasdar.
On their way back, the mirasdar asked the son who of the two guards should be given charge of the new orchard the mirasdar was buying.
The son’s choice was for the first guard who knew about his trees.
The mirasdar had a different view: ‘You see, the first guard knew which of those fruits were good. How do we know if he hasn’t taken bags of them for himself? Only a step away from tasting the fruits. On the other hand second guy was doing an honest job. We need people like him to work for us.’
This is an old story of wisdom that may not hold in present times.
Today the first guy would be the man of choice. He had knowledge of his trees. He would use it to take extra care of those trees bearing sweet fruits. Who knows – he might even hold those fruits separate from the other produce and recommend they be priced with a premium. Clearly he has enlarged his job for the mirasdar’s profit and hopefully his too. The gains of his empowerment and initiative far outweigh loss due to pilferage if any.
Admittedly a possibility, pilferage – the downside of empowerment, a far less problem, could be addressed by other means.
Winners secret sauce today is to find imaginatively newer ways of empowering those who are on the job, and the latter seizing the initiative to enlarge and enrich their jobs, of course with checks and balances against possible abuses.
This is an obvious corollary emerging from today’s reality – it is neither feasible nor wise to comprehensively anticipate every possible situation faced by one on the job and specify in advance responses for the same.
How often we forget every pair of hands comes with a head of their own! And unfortunately, more often than not, so do the hands.
Credits: ryanlerch at openclipart.com
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