April 15, 1990

Making Evaluation

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No man can live happily who regards himself alone, who turns everything to his own advantage. – Seneca

More than anything else I don’t want anyone to take advantage of me. That’s really the bottom line regarding ethical behavior.

Here’s a word picture of disadvantage: In tennis, one party is always at more of an advantage than another. When a match gets close, the players volley the score back and forth until one player outscores the other. The description used to signal the player closest to the winning point is “advantage.” At no other time than the very beginning, at “love,” are both players equal.

Unfortunately, we see this sort of advantage/disadvantage all over the world. In fact, you might even see it on a daily basis where you live.

In case you need a refresher, here are some of the ways people are taken advantage of:

● Physically
● Mentally
● Emotionally
● Socially
● Sexually
● Financially

You might even have a few other ways to add to the list, but this is enough to get started.

Sometimes people take advantage of others unwillingly. It becomes a management style people sometimes don’t even realize they’re using, kind of like Jim.

Jim works his team hard. He’s full of vision and dreams. His company is an upward climb—he’s managed to sustain double-digit growth for more than a decade. He shares bonuses with his employees, and offers generous vacation time.

But his management style is taking a toll. His workers are leaving at an alarming rate. What’s he doing wrong?

He’s leveraging the company’s future value and position on the backs of his most loyal employees. He paints the vision for them to work hard and then they go and work the plan. But for more than five years he has been hinting about selling pieces of the company to the employees. He has never laid out a concrete plan, but he always talks around it—especially when an employee talks about leaving and he wants to win the person back.

Quite simply, he’s taking advantage of his employees.

We grow a little every time we do not take advantage of somebody’s weakness. – Bern Williams

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