Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


On Monday, I had breakfast at a local eatery, which I frequent about once a week. With that frequency, I got to know some of the people working there (albeit superficially).

One "server" (as they are called there to my slight discomfort)--"David"--always intrigued me because he presented a perfect contradiction (at least superficially). Smiling and good natured, he always seemed in take pride in doing good work. The arm "tat" (partially occluded by his shirt) and studded belt didn't seem to fit.

He just informed me that seven "servers" quit, including him. I asked why. He said they quit in unison because of how they were treated by management. He denied that it was money. I have no way of knowing if that's the case, but a couple of additional reasons led me to believe it wasn't about the lucre.

First, another "server" had told me the same thing the previous week. However, she characterized it as a "management" problem, and further said she wasn't quitting. She wanted to keep her job for the money, she allowed. Second, identifying the seven, I knew a couple of them. Since they were long timers, I doubted that money issues suddenly arose, which would cause them to leave when the wages had been acceptable for such a long period of time.

This scenario reminded me of Max DePree's superb, Leadership Is An Art. Paraphrasing a bit, DePree argued that employees are essentially volunteers. They are volunteers because they can leave whenever they want, as a general matter.

It caused me to wonder what "tax" would be visited upon the eatery for its mistreatment of its loyal employees. The recruitment and training of their replacements cannot be inexpensive, and there is no guaranty that the new employees will be able to satisfy the customers to the extent the others had. This in turn may lead to more turn over, and hence, more recruitment and training. It might even lead to its customers losing their appetites for their food.

An encouraging word, or other token of appreciation, can be so inexpensive, but in the long run, so valuable to leaders and managers and ultimately the organization.