When I was a farmer lad I noticed that whenever we bought a new cow, and
turned her into the pasture with the herd, there was a general
inclination on the part of the rest to make the new cow think she had
landed in the orthodox perdition. They would hook her away from the
salt, chase her from the water, and the long-horned ones, for several
weeks, would lose no opportunity to give her vigorous digs, pokes
With horses it was the same. And I remember one particular little black
mare that we boys used to transfer from one pasture to another, just to
see her back into a herd of horses and hear her hoofs play a resounding
solo on their ribs as they gathered round to do her mischief.
Men are animals just as much as are cows, horses and pigs; and they
manifest similar proclivities. The introduction of a new man into an
institution always causes a small panic of resentment, especially if he
be a person of some power. Even in schools and colleges the new teacher
has to fight his way to overcome the opposition he is certain to meet.
In a lumber camp, the newcomer would do well to take the initiative,
like that little black mare, and meet the first black look with a
But in a bank, department store or railroad office this cannot be. So
the next best thing is to endure, and win out by an attention to
business to which the place is unaccustomed. In any event, the bigger
the man, unless he has the absolute power to overawe everything, the
more uncomfortable will be his position until gradually time smooths the
way and new issues come up for criticism, opposition and resentment, and
he is forgotten.
The idea of Civil Service Reform--promotion for the good men in your
employ rather than hiring new ones for the big places--is a rule which
looks well on paper but is a fatal policy if carried out to the letter.
The business that is not progressive is sowing the seeds of its own
dissolution. Life is a movement forward, and all things in nature that
are not evolving into something better are preparing to return into
their constituent elements. One general rule for progress in big
business concerns is the introduction of new blood. You must keep step
with the business world. If you lag behind, the outlaws that hang on the
flanks of commerce will cut you out and take you captive, just as the
wolves lie in wait for the sick cow of the plains.
To keep your columns marching you must introduce new methods, new
inspiration and seize upon the best that others have invented or
The great railroads of America have evolved together. No one of them has
an appliance or a method that is much beyond the rest. If it were not
for this interchange of men and ideas some railroads would still be
using the link and pin, and snake-heads would be as common as in the
The railroad manager who knows his business is ever on the lookout for
excellence among his men, and he promotes those who give an undivided
service. But besides this he hires a strong man occasionally from the
outside and promotes him over everybody. Then out come the hammers!
But this makes but little difference to your competent manager--if a
place is to be filled and he has no one on his payroll big enough to
fill it, he hires an outsider.
That is right and well for every one concerned. The new life of many a
firm dates from the day they hired a new man.
Communities that intermarry raise a fine crop of scrubs, and the result
is the same in business ventures. Two of America's largest publishing
houses failed for a tidy sum of five millions or so each, a few years
ago, just thru a dogged policy, that extended over a period of fifty
years, of promoting cousins, uncles and aunts whose only claim of
efficiency was that they had been on the pension roll for a long time.
This way lies dry-rot.
If you are a business man, and have a position of responsibility to be
filled, look carefully among your old helpers for a man to promote. But
if you haven't a man big enough to fill the place, do not put in a
little one for the sake of peace. Go outside and find a man and hire
him--never mind the salary if he can man the position--wages are always
relative to earning power. This will be the only way you can really man
As for Civil Service Rules--rules are made to be broken. And as for the
long-horned ones who will attempt to make life miserable for your new
employe, be patient with them. It is the privilege of everybody to do a
reasonable amount of kicking, especially if the person has been a long
time with one concern and has received many benefits.
But if at the last, worst comes to worst, do not forget that you
yourself are at the head of the concern. If it fails you get the blame.
And should the anvil chorus become so persistent that there is danger of
discord taking the place of harmony, stand by your new man, even tho it
is necessary to give the blue envelope to every antediluvian. Precedence
in business is a matter of power, and years in one position may mean
that the man has been there so long that he needs a change. Let the
zephyrs of natural law play freely thru your whiskers.
So here is the argument: promote your deserving men, but do not be
afraid to hire a keen outsider; he helps everybody, even the kickers,
for if you disintegrate and go down in defeat, the kickers will have to
skirmish around for new jobs anyway. Isn't that so?