I’ve done my time in the corporate world, and it turned my stomach. The infighting, politics, groveling, and backstabbing — it all starts at the top. That’s why my latest epiphany replaces the CEOs of major corps with first-grade teachers. Specifically, my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Smith. (This week’s epiphany includes a special guest illustration from Phil Wong.)
The fictional world of Lord of the Flies is a daily reality in the corporate world. Workers slit throats, kiss hinders and occasionally kiss slit hinders to get to the top.
To quell that mentality, we need to focus on the source of the dysfunction: Power-mad, cash-craving CEOs. Here’s why the likes of Mrs. Smith would do wonders for the business world, and society at large:
- First-grade teachers can resolve conflict. If there is a problem between first-graders, they’re forced to shake hands and say they’re sorry. Imagine the ignominy of having to apologize as a grown-up!
- First-grade teachers can eliminate training budgets. Who needs professional trainers when you’ve got a first grade teacher on board? If they can teach a person to read, surely they can show the corp how to use that new timesheet software.
- First-grade teachers don’t require a mega-salary. Forget the multi-million dollar salaries of today’s CEO. You can pay a first-grade teacher 35K a year and they’ll be happy. And if they’re not happy, we know that we can still exploit their concern for children without fear of them jumping ship.
With all these benefits, I put my latest epiphany into play.
Hiring the First-Grade Teacher
It just so happens that I own a multi-national corporation. We manufacture ketchup packets. Unfortunately, our corp is as dysfunctional as any other company. I’ve decided to fire my CEO and pull my old first-grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, out of retirement.
“But I’ve only worked with first graders,” she told me.
“I don’t think you’ll notice a difference,” I replied.
Mrs. Anderson took the bull by the horns, to say the least. First off, anytime someone needed to go to the bathroom, they had to ask for a pass. We immediately weeded out the slackers who were lounging in the can, and workplace efficiency improved by 65 percent.
Next, Mrs. Anderson initiated recess. She had the buildings and ground crew erect some jungle gyms and four-square became mandatory. The overall fitness level of the corporation improved, and our health insurance premiums were slashed.
Finally, Mrs. Anderson resolved disagreements over office space by creating her own seating chart. Case closed on that one too.
It was all going splendidly until we hit the first day of June. That’s when Mrs. Anderson packed up her desk and headed out to the parking lot. Frantically, I chased after her.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
She seemed shocked at the question. “Why, it’s summer vacation. I’m going home to weed my garden.”
I tried to renegotiate her contract to get her come back for “summer school,” but she wouldn’t have it.
“Teachers need a break,” she said. “I can’t put up with the kids – er, adults – year round.”
By the time I returned to the office, it had already relapsed into a dysfunctional mess. I sighed and picked up the phone. I’m sticking with Mrs. Anderson over the long run, but in the meantime, I’ll have to call in a sub.
Special thanks to Phil Wong for this week’s illustration. Click here to learn more about Phil!