Once upon a time there was a young priest who felt sorry for his elderly parishioners that were unable to attend church on Sunday.  So he decided to get together with a few of his colleagues and create a rota to visit them in their homes instead. Shortly after his scheme was set up he was sent away on a mission abroad but when he returned a few years later he decided to pop back to see his old parish and how one old lady in particular was getting on.

“I am doing OK, thanks for asking” she said “although there’s one thing that perhaps you might like to help me with?” “Certainly, just ask” said the priest. “Your friends, it’s almost as if they know exactly when to call. Just when I get settled down nicely in front of the television to watch the horse racing, the door bell rings and I feel obliged to welcome them in. I don’t like to be rude so I let them sit and talk for a while but do they have to visit quite so often, or even at all?”

The young priest was taken aback. Until that point it had never even occurred to him that perhaps the elderly, living alone were not necessarily lonely at all!  

When I heard this story it made me think of the number of employee plans that are drawn up each year and perhaps they, like the priest’s rota, might not be welcome either? If he had just spent a little more time finding out what his elderly parishioners really wanted, he might have saved himself and everyone else a lot of time and trouble!

Employees may not always be as quiet and polite as the lady in this week’s story but I find that they too are often reluctant to say what is really on their minds to their bosses, especially when they know that they have the company’s best interests at heart.

Our desire to do good, to do the right thing, is what brings humanity to the world. But there is always the risk of patronizing the very people we want to help and it can all too easily lead us to having a completely false impression of what the real problem is, if indeed there is one at all.

Have a nice week,