Thursday, January 22, 2009

More lessons from children’s lit: Dr. Seuss

As either my wife or I do every night, our daughter was put to bed last night with a book (or four). On the list last night was one of my all time favorites, Green Eggs & Ham. As I was reading I got to thinking that given the adult themes Dr. Seuss weaved into his books, there must be some lessons for employers to take from his works. I came up with the following:

Horton Hears a Who teaches that employers should not ignore complaints by employees. If an employee raises a concern about harassment, it is best for the company to take the complaint seriously, investigate, and take whatever corrective action, if any, is necessary. It is far better to investigate and conclude that nothing is there than to ignore the complaint and have it blossom into a lawsuit.

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book, is about a boy who dreams up a wild story to tell his father when he gets some from a walk down Mulberry Street, but ultimately decides to simply tell him what he saw. For employers, the lesson is to deal openly and honestly with employees. Gossip runs rampant in every workplace, and it is better to quell rumors than to keep truths or even lie to employees. This lesson is especially relevant with the silent killer of card check union recognition potentially looming on the horizon.

The Cat in the Hat teaches that employers must know what it is the right time to cut bait with a troublesome employee.

Yertle the Turtle involves the king of the pond who commands the other turtles to stack themselves beneath him so that he can see, ignoring the turtles’ pleas for rest. The lesson for employers is to treat employees fairly.

The Sneetches, about shunning those who look different, teaches an important lesson about discrimination.

Finally, Fox in Sox teaches that sometimes you just have to have a little fun.