Who Eats The Sins Of The Sin-Eater?

Lucky is the manager who employs workers who put the needs of others ahead of their own needs. These individuals are generous to a fault.

Columns From: 5/17/2001 Modern Machine Shop,

Lucky is the manager who employs workers who put the needs of others ahead of their own needs.

These individuals are generous to a fault. They will strip themselves bare in order to satisfy the needs of the group. They live to serve and are constantly and effortlessly giving of themselves. They invariably defer to others by being noncompetitive, acquiescent, subservient and unambitious. They are at all times considerate, ethical, honest and trustworthy. They are broadminded and tolerant of others' faults and shortcomings. They never castigate or reprove others. They'll stick with you in good times and in bad. They are neither conceited nor arrogant, and they fret if you fuss over them.

These are the people who do not like being the focus of attention. They are uneasy in the limelight and instead prefer to let others have center stage. They are dignified, gallant and long-suffering. They prefer to endure their own hardships with an almost stoic innocence. They have much patience and a high tolerance for discomfort. They are naïve and childlike, as they tend never to suspect deviousness or underhanded motives in the people to whom they give so much of themselves. They are unaware of the profound impact they make on other people's lives. What a manager would not give to have a staff of such worker-saints.

These individuals are self-sacrificing, and they deflect attention away from themselves. They don't seek out rewards for their helpfulness. They sacrifice their own needs in the act of service, but they don't experience their actions as self-renunciation or self-repudiation. Doing good makes them feel right, and that's what counts. They are true altruists, and they find meaning in making others' lives better. And this is why others find them to be true healers, alleviating pain and misery.

The downside of this altruistic behavior is that by routinely taking the attention off themselves, they allow the manager or other team members to stop noticing their efforts, to take them for granted or even to take advantage of their good nature. By insisting that they do not want to be thanked, recognized or noticed, other people begin taking them at their word and stop paying attention to their contributions. And that wounds deeply. They may not want to be commemorated for their selfless efforts, but they need to be well regarded and appreciated. To be treated as “nobodies” can cause them pain and confusion.

Selfless people can adapt to different work situations and conditions. They don't complain, “It's not my job.” If it's important to the boss, the group or the company, they'll do it. The meaning and importance of the work itself or of the person for whom they work is more valuable than personal gain. The manager must thank these people for their unrelenting efforts. I bet you can think of at least one of these people in your shop who needs a raise. Give it to that person without too much fanfare.

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