I have always thought that you could tell an awful lot about a company’s values, culture and leadership by what happens in the weeks running up to the holidays. If the company is near the average make-up of the US population, more than 3/4 of the employees are practicing Christians or Jews, which means the holidays are pretty important to them. 100% of them are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandmothers or grandfathers, which means the holidays may be an even bigger deal to them.
At Barry-Wehmiller, a great lean company under a great lean leader, Bob Chapman, they “take pride in the family environment we create within the walls of Barry-Wehmiller and in the ways the environment extends beyond our walls“. Anything that important to the families of their employees is pretty important to the leaders of the company.
Greg Wahl is spending the week individually meeting with every one of their many hundreds of employees, wishing each a Merry Christmas, and giving each of them boxes of meat, cheese, fruit and a couple of extra days off. Again, anything so important to the people who work at Wahl is very important to the man whose name is on the building.
And then there are the countless companies and their leaders who operate at the other extreme. No point in naming any of them. Paid days off are acknowledgement of the holidays enough for them.
So, read the following and see which best approximates the view of your company and its leadership:
At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his hat.
“You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.
“If quite convenient, Sir.”
“It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I ‘ll be bound?”
The clerk smiled faintly.
“And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”
The clerk observed that it was only once a year.
“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning!”
’Yo ho, my boys!’ said Fezziwig. ‘No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer! Let’s have the shutters up,’ cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, ‘before a man can say Jack Robinson!’
You wouldn’t believe how those two fellows went at it. They charged into the street with the shutters-one, two, three-had them up in their places-four, five, six-barred them and pinned then-seven, eight, nine-and came back before you could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses.
‘Hilli-ho!’ cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk, with wonderful agility. ‘Clear away, my lads, and let’s have lots of room here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Chirrup, Ebenezer!’
Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn’t have cleared away, or couldn’t have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room, as you would desire to see upon a winter’s night.
In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and lovable. In came the six young followers whose hearts they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid, with her cousin, the baker. In came the cook, with her brother’s particular friend, the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master; trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one, who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress. In they all came, one after nother; some shyly, some boldly, some gracefully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling; in they all came, anyhow and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping; old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them. When this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the dance, cried out, ‘Well done.’
Bob Chapman and Greg Wahl would have liked old Fezziwig. Like them, I think Fezziwig would have made a great lean leader.