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Article -> Employee Engagement Through Ants

Date Added: August 2018

As organizations expand and become more efficient, they may over-think things. The following is a story containing great words of wisdom for organizations and leaders from a Ugandan colleague where we cannot seem to find the initial source.

Daily, an Ant arrives at work early and starts work immediately. She produces much and is always happy. The Chief, a Tiger, was surprised to see the Ant working without much supervision. He thought if the Ant can produce much without supervision, would not she produce more if she had a supervisor.

He recruited a Bee with extensive supervisory experience and known for writing excellent reports. The first decision of the Bee was to hire an assistant to help with his reports. He recruited a Rabbit, who also handled phone calls.

The Tiger was delighted with the reports from the Bee and asked him to create presentations for Board meetings describing production rates and analyzing trends. The Bee had to buy a new computer and printer; and recruited a Cat to manage the IT department. The Ant, who had once been productive and relaxed, hated this new plethora of paperwork and meetings which used up most of her time.

The Tiger concluded it was time for someone to lead the department where the Ant worked. The position was given to the Monkey, whose first decision was to buy a new desk and chair for his office. The Monkey also needed a computer and an assistant to help create an operations plan.

The department the Ant was in is now a sad place. Nobody laughs anymore, and everyone is disengaged. The Bee convinced the boss, the Tiger, to study the culture and reduce expenses.

The Tiger recruited the Owl, a prestigious and renowned consultant to carry out a 3-month audit and suggest solutions. The analysis by the Owl showed production in the department the Ane was in was much less than before, concluding, The Department is overstaffed.

Guess who the Tiger reduces first? Of course, the Ant, because she showed lack of motivation and had a negative attitude.

Is this a familiar situation? There are many lessons from this story. Empower the Ants to do their job. They do it well. They know what to do. And if they are happy and engaged, trust them to do what is right for customers and your organization.

Tracking and measuring data is good in some instances; however, it can be overdone to the detriment of employee productivity. Ask employees for their input. Listen to what they say. Learn from them since they are on the front line, and act to create processes to empower, engage, and appreciate employees.

A quote says, Great leaders do not set out to be leaders. They set out to make a difference. It is never about the role. Always about the goal. Make a difference by treating employees with the respect they deserve and seek to positively impact them; and the rest will take care of itself.

David Yeghiaian is committed to inspiring others through faith and leadership. Reach him at david@unique-solutionsinc.com.
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