Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Taking Care Of Business

...a kingdom was lost, all for the want of a horseshoe nail. For Want Of A Nail
For want of a nail, a shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost,
For want of a horse, a rider was lost,
For want of a rider, a message was lost,
For want of a message, a battle was lost,
For want of a battle, a kingdom was lost,
All for the want of a horseshoe nail.



If you recognize this post, it’s because parts of it appeared several months ago. This last week I was asked about it and I decided to repeat it with a few additions and changes. But, I left the poem intact!

It is easy to be energized by the idea of a new or big work challenge: Those are the times when all of us are more inclined to feel like contributors to the bigger picture of our organizations. However, those big challenges do not happen often, and most of our work is recurring and routine. Supervisors and managers should know and appreciate the value of every task that helps maintain an effective organization, and frequently remind employees of how important those tasks are.

  • Supervisors are often advised to develop challenging work for employees who seem unmotivated by regular work. It is far better to help employees see that the regular work they were hired to do is worth doing and worth doing well–and to demonstrate that truth by actively showing appreciation for well-done daily work.
  • When exciting or unique work is over,  there is a tendency to feel let down, and routine work seems blah by comparison. When employees believe their daily work is crucial work, challenging projects are not seen as necessary to stay committed to the organization and the job. 

Observe and inspect regular, routine work as though it is as important as big, unique and challenging tasks. those tasks–because it is. Reinforce the value of those tasks with employees and let them know you notice and appreciate their daily work. Make it as worthwhile and satisfying for employees to do routine tasks well, as it is for them to accept and fulfill a great challenge.

You may never be responsible for leading the battle that saves the kingdom, or riding with the message that saves the battle, or even shoeing the horse that carries the rider. Nevertheless, do not underestimate the value of being the one who effectively monitors the supply of nails.

December 7th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | 8 comments