Attracting Employees With Honey

I’m finally getting to the bottom of some of my piles, including my backlog of magazines. In The Atlantic‘s (one of the few magazines I encourage others to subscribe to) June issue, Brian Mockenhaupt wrote an excellent piece titled, The Army We Have. From his article, I found the following quote relating to training and treatment of military members:

In 1879, for example, Army Major General John Schofield told West Point cadets that ill treatment breeds not respect and compliance but resentment:

The discipline which makes the Soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an Army. It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice as to inspire in the Soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. (link)

Schofield’s viewpoint makes sense, and I believe it’s an idea that translates well into a variety of settings, including the business world. How many employers have you worked for that resorted to “harsh or tyrannical treatment?”

One friend works for a company that requires a signature on a document that gives said company the right to sue if he leaves and, for example, goes to work at a place that also uses Microsoft Outlook on its computers too. Not possible, right? Totally possible according to an attorney consulted about the document. The underlying threat is that any non-compliant individual will lose his or her job if they fail to sign. Sigh. When will companies learn that they can’t gain loyalty through duress or fear?

I understand why a company seeks to protect itself from poaching and losing employees to competitors. Companies have a right to guard their interests and investments. However, I suspect there are more efficient and effective ways to do so other than through legal documentation. There’s a reason why the cliché, “you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar,” still exists. When will companies, like the one I described above, understand it applies to them too?



1 Response to “Attracting Employees With Honey”

  1. 1 nbakewell
    September 13, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    I heard a quote once that I think is particularly true: “never belittle a weak man – he will not move on.”

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September 2007
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