The risk of safe…a HR message

Too much of safety measures you like to employ in your responsibilities can certainly cause too much of risk to others is the management message, both the wood duck and Barnacle geese conveys to corporate.

Both these birds build their nest in holes in tall trees or on the slope of high mountains which are inaccessible to most of the predatory animals. They lay eggs in such nests and fully feathered chicks would hatch out from eggs. Unlike most of the nestling chicks that are reared by the parents in the nest until they grow fully, the nestlings of Barnacle geese and Wood duck has to leave the nest and follow the parents soon after they hatch out.

The parent birds invite and encourage the chicks from the nest to jump several feet down within minutes after they hatch out. The height from which the chicks have to jump down is not only scary but also dangerous/fatal. The chicks that fail to jump down or that makes mistake while jumping has to pay their life as price as several predatory animals would be waiting for such chicks. Many chicks do die when they jump down.

The parent barnacle geese and wood duck have done their best by building the nest in most inaccessible site where the predators cannot reach and eat the eggs.   Certainly they have ensured the safety of the eggs and the process of hatching.   But the same safety measures do not give flexibility or advantage to the parents to rear the chicks in the nest. Hence the chicks have to take the risk of jumping down from great height.

The management message to be learned by the corporate are

  1. Over caution and extra safe measures although may offer some level of ‘safety’ but may not give you the freedom or flexibility
  2. Your safety measures should not be limited to your task alone but it must offer overall safety to every one in the spectrum

If the above tenets are not understood, your extraordinary safety measures will have limited values.

From the point of view of laying eggs and safely hatching the chicks, certainly both wood duck and barnacle geese have done their job well by choosing an extremely inaccessible nesting site. But the same safe nest site neither offer any advantage to rear the chicks in the nest nor the chicks to move out of the nest safely soon after they hatch out.

Many corporate leaders look for only own safety and welfare. Most of them always serve own self interest, selfish needs and self gratification. All their effort will be to ensure own safety and they may not ever care to know about how they jeopardize the interest and welfare of the organization.

They ruthlessly push people to risk without knowing the fact that when own people are put in danger means it would only affect the organization. Unfortunately, some of such leaders may be owners of the organization but still they may act exactly like ‘middle management’ level leaders and not are ‘true’ entrepreneurs. It would be like how the parent barnacle geese and wood duck choosing safe nesting site and make unsafe landing situation to own chicks, the leaders of some organization also will function.

The debate is not about the act of barnacle geese and wood duck are right or wrong. But the corporate has to learn an important management message and that is, never gets lost in the ‘sacrosanct’ definition of safe approach. Your safe measures must provide safety and security especially to the most vulnerable in the team. Look at the irony. The chicks of barnacle geese and wood duck find it hard to accept the safe nesting site of its parents when they have to jump down.

Let the overall welfare and safety of everyone in your organization be your first priority and not just own safety and security.

Dr S Ranganathan, ClinRise Derma Pvt., Ltd., Chennai

Desire, Dream and Destination – Social Entrepreneur Forum

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