by Richard Harshaw
Every successful team in professional sports has a playbook—a binder of plays they learn during the pre-season and then strive to execute flawlessly during the season as they seek the championship. Those with good playbooks—and coaches that know how to sequence the right plays—usually end up with the titles.
Employees also have a playbook. Note that I did not say an “employee handbook”. Most good companies have these (they explain company policy and procedure on things like benefits, vacation, reviews, promotion, termination and the like). No, I am talking about a playbook for the employees—a guide book that each carries with him or her internally and which guides and shapes their behavior on the job. And it is their behavior on the job that spells success—or failure—for the employee, and ultimately for the company.
The Greatest Book Ever Written contains a great deal of wisdom that any employee would do well to learn and practice. For example, one of the most basic of employee “plays” to master is the ability to rest at least one day a week. Commandment number four of the Ten Commandments states, “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work.” Now some faiths take this to an extreme and refuse even to light a fire on the “day of rest”, but the principal is simple—at least once a week, we need to pause and “recharge” our batteries.
Now I don’t care whether you use that day to worship your God (or no god at all)—I do care that you knock off at least one day a week and get away from the grind. Let the pressure fall off you for that day, let your nerves relax. All work and no play not only makes Jack a dull boy—it also can give him a heart attack.
It is also good for an employee to look forward to his paycheck. She has a right to it, and if it is not given to her on time, she may become discouraged or even angry, causing you more problems than the few dollars you save for a day or two by delaying “payday.” Frankly, I prefer to hire people who have big financial dreams, because these are the ones who will move heaven and earth to make the kind of money they need to realize those dreams. (This is especially true of sales people. Beware the sales person who is content to make a passable but paltry wage.)
But this employee playbook page also has a double edge to it—for the same book that advises us to look forward to our wages also advises us to be content with them for the time being. (See the parable of the vineyard workers in Matthew 20:1-16 for instance, or the advice of John the Baptist to the Roman soldiers who came to hear him preach in the wilderness of Judea in Luke 3:14.)
High-performing employees should never be at rest with their income level, but they should be content with it for now, because they realize that their pay is a measure of how much society (and in this case, the boss) values their contribution to that society. A wise employee knows that if she wants to make more money, she must find a way to serve more effectively and efficiently.
Here are some other basic plays from the employee playbook as outlined in the Bible:
• Don’t lie to your boss (2 Kings 5:25-27)
• Listen to your supervisor and heed his or her direction; you’ll be better off for it in the long run (Proverbs 27:18).
• A faithful, loyal and hard worker brings joy to her supervisor or boss (Proverbs 25:13).
• Cooperate with your boss or supervisor and don’t give them any lip. You’ll move ahead a whole lot faster! (Ephesians 6:5-8)
• Respect your boss as you would God himself. (Not that your boss is God—far from it! But the showing of respect is something that God honors.) (Malachi 1:6)
Ultimately, your relationship with your boss or supervisor is a reflection of your relationship with God. You can’t hide from that. It is there for everyone to see!
If you are a boss or supervisor, can you imagine what your operation would be like if every employee followed these simple plays from the greatest Playbook? Wouldn’t that be awesome!
Next month, we’ll focus on Management’s role in setting the tone for a productive and honorable company. Until then, do the right thing. It will make you feel good and confuse the dickens out of those who hate you!