What makes a good employee?

DUBAI: There are employees who do their jobs by habitual repetition as instructed and there are those who go the extra mile to give justice to their hard work.

Amy Rees Anderson, an “angel investor” or one who provides capital for business start-up, couldn’t have put this aptly when she referred to “The Parable of the Oranges,” in an article she wrote for Forbes, as she explained how productivity is best measured at the workplace.

And this was how the story went:

There was a young man who was given entry-level by a company and took it the next level, working long hours to get his boss’ attention.

Five years later, a supervisor position was opened and imagine his bitterness when the slot was given to another employee – and a new one at that.

Upset, the young man demanded an explanation from his boss.

And this was where the plot thickened. The boss asked the young man to buy him oranges as a favor because his wife needs them – to which the employee obliged.

When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”

“I don’t know,” the young man answered. “You just said to buy oranges, and these are oranges. Here they are.”

“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” was the reply. “You gave me $30. Here is your receipt, and here is your change.”

“Thank you,” said the boss. “Now, please have a seat and pay careful attention.”

Then, the boss called in the employee who had received the promotion and asked him to do the same job. He readily agreed and went to the store.

When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”

“Well,” he replied, “the store had many varieties and I didn’t know which kind to buy. But I remembered you said your wife needed the oranges, so I called her. She said she was having a party and that she was going to make orange juice.

“So, I asked the grocer which of all these oranges would make the best orange juice. He said the Valencia orange was full of very sweet juice, so that’s what I bought. I dropped them by your home on my way back to the office. Your wife was very pleased.”

“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.

“Well, that was another problem. I didn’t know how many to buy, so I once again called your wife and asked her how many guests she was expecting. She said 20. I asked the grocer how many oranges would be needed to make juice for 20 people, and it was a lot. So, I asked the grocer if he could give me a quantity discount, and he did! These oranges normally cost 75 cents each, but I paid only 50 cents. Here is your change and the receipt.”

The boss smiled and said, “Thank you; you may go.”

He looked over at the young man who had been watching. The young man stood up, slumped his shoulders and said, “I see what you mean,” as he walked dejectedly out of the office.

“What was the difference between these two young men?” Anderson said.

“The first young man was motivated by money, position, and prestige. The second was driven by an intense desire to please his employer and an inner commitment to be the best employee he could possibly be—and the outcome was obvious.”

Staff Report

The Filipino Times is the chronicler of stories for, of and by Filipinos all over the world, reaching more than 236 countries in readership. Any interesting story to share? Email us at [email protected]

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