Unfortunately, it seems that one of the worst mistakes you can make in the workplace is letting on that you have the ability to spin straw into gold.
For the avoidance of all doubt, I don’t mean that in the literal sense.
I mean showing that you can produce something of substance with only the bare minimum being provided.
The term spinning straw into gold comes from the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin by Wilhelm Grimm.
The fairy tale tells of a miller, who in an attempt to impress the king, claims his daughter can spin straw into gold.
This obviously piqued the king’s interest and he, therefore, tells the miller to bring his daughter to the castle so that the outlandish claim can be put to the test.
When the miller’s daughter arrived at the castle she was taken to a room that was filled entirely with straw.
Giving her a spinning wheel and a reel, the king tells the miller’s daughter “Get to work now. Spin all night and if by morning you have not spun this straw into gold then you will have to die.”
Being unable to spin straw into gold she sat in the locked room lost and afraid for her life.
Then suddenly a little man stepped into the room and asked her why she was crying.
After explaining her dilemma the little man asked her what she was willing to pay if he got the job done.
The miller’s daughter promised her necklace and the little man sat down and spun all the straw into gold.
When the king returned the next day he saw the room filled with gold instead of straw.
But instead of being satisfied, the king got greedy for more gold.
And so he took the miller’s daughter to an even larger room filled with straw and ordered her to repeat her miraculous feat or pay with her life.
The miller’s daughter knowing she had no input in the creation of the gold resorted to crying again.
Again the little man appeared and asked what payment he would get for doing the impossible.
The miller’s daughter promised her ring this time.
The little man took the ring and spun the straw into gold.
The king returned the next morning and was again filled with joy seeing the gold-filled room.
And as payment for doing the impossible the miller’s daughter was taken to an even larger room filled with straw.
This time instead of threatening to kill her if she failed, the king promised to marry her if she transformed the straw to gold.
And like the two previous times, the miller’s daughter cried and the little man appeared.
This time however when the little man asked what payment he would get if he spun the straw into gold, the miller’s daughter said she had nothing to give.
“Then promise me, after you are queen, your first child,” the little man said.
The story of Rumpelstiltskin is a timeless classic that tells of manipulation by all parties involved.
And unfortunately, manipulation seems to persist in today’s offices.
Far too often when an employee creates something meaningful from inadequate input, they are given an even bigger room filled with straw as a reward.
“A cruel irony: The reward for someone who works hard is more work,” Haemin Sunim says in his book titled “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down.”
How difficult is it to ensure that the proper tools are provided to employees to ensure that successful results can be achieved consistently?
How difficult is it to ensure that training is provided?
Do we instead prefer to set people up to fail?
This got me thinking about why sometimes good employees are taken for granted.
Forbes magazine offered five reasons:
Some managers are afraid to give employees acknowledgement when they do a great job. They’re afraid that if they praise an employee, the employee will ask for more money.
What We Used to Reward Highly is Now Just Expected
Many a talented employee has left their job because their company got so used to their contributions that people stopped noticing them. That is the definition of “being taken for granted,” in fact!
Another reason top performers get taken for granted at work is that often, their excellent results threaten somebody around them who is in a position to dole out rewards and recognition. That person could be your own manager, your boss’s boss or another manager who isn’t comfortable with your growing flame.
Some people find it challenging to soften and be human. They don’t want to be equals with their employees. They don’t want to be in debt — even when the debt is only a debt of gratitude.
The power balance feels out of whack. They want to be the person who calls the shots in their department. They don’t want to feel beholden to their employee.
The last reason great performers get taken for granted is that if the people around you at work aren’t smart and savvy, they may truly not understand your contributions. That is a problem that working people run into every day.
Take a step back and evaluate your relationship with those under your supervision.
Communication is always key to improving relationships
Recognition can take many forms in the workplace, from saying thank you to a full programme tailored to your industry.
Whatever the approach it’s always based on the little things.