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An Italian Scrooge at Easter Time

This is a joyous time of year when most people celebrate that sacred day of Easter (in Italian, known as “Pasqua”) with family and friends all gathered together. In Italian it is said, “Natale con I tuoi e Pasqua con chi vuoi” which means Christmas should be celebrated with family while Easter can be celebrated with whosoever one chooses. The fact remains that this precious holiday representing the “resurrection” and “rebirth” is a time when some extra money, or even a minimum amount of money, would facilitate enjoying time to its fullest with beloved ones. As a thinker and writer, it confounds me to hear that an Italian entrepreneur, who is said to be much like Ebenezer Scrooge himself, decided not to pay his poor employees before the Easter holiday even though he knew he was already ten days late according to the terms of their legal contracts. It so happened that this manager was emulating the fictive Scrooge himself because he took narcissistic pleasure in making those sad employees suffer, and if the reader of this article happens to be a manager, I would dare say this is not the most effective strategy to encourage employees to become dedicated team players so the author of this article suggests that all managers implement acts of caring and sharing with employees right before the holidays because not only is this strategy more ethical, but it also inspires productivity and general well-being of the company.

In Italy, such behaviour by unqualified managers is not as rare as one would believe, reports an Italian citizen who prefers not to be identified, because this is the consequence of so-called “spaghetti management”. According to my secret Italian sources, ” ‘Spaghetti-something’ is anything people improvise without having the necessary background, education, and knowledge to do it.” For instance, “spaghetti-software” is a typical example of software that was created without following the logical rules that would have made the program become more efficient, easily comprehensible, and maintainable.” Likewise, spaghetti managers behave at work as if they were the fictional character named Scrooge while forgetting the true mission of their businesses because they tend to love the unearned and undeserved power that they get when their employees are intentionally neglected in times of need.

Ebenezer Scrooge, our fictional prototype from Dickens’ masterpiece, paid his main employee Bob (the guy who was overworked and underpaid) very little money and only permitted him to have a short holiday time. Likewise, Scrooge did not care about his own family at Christmas time, at least not until the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future finally revealed to him how he would ultimately pay a painful price for his misdeeds. Thus, Scrooge changed his ways before it was too late. Perhaps, some real-life entrepreneurs could learn such a lesson.

Most surprisingly, some Italian managers today have no restraint and care little about the negative impact on the company as a whole when they neglect impoverished Italian workers. One such Scrooge paid very low wages to his employees and held the pay until after the Easter holiday for he knew this would cause disruption in the families. Not surprisingly, he ate sweet treats that had been given to him by clients the day before the holidays; yet, he did not even offer those unfortunate employees a little taste. Perhaps he could have at least given them one of those little bags of cookies that he took home for himself after they had been given as gifts to the firm. This abusive boss’s employees could not work at their peak performance during the last week before Easter due to the worries about whether or not they could pay the rent or even eat a nice meal with loved ones over the holidays. Such an entrepreneurial Scrooge should have heeded the advice of those same fictive Ghosts who visited the fictional Scrooge. No doubt, there are lessons to be learned from literature.

How amazing it is that Italian employers no longer respect the sacred nature of the holidays. It seems that denying a family of its paycheck before the holidays is just another way to show that the employer does not respect the traditional Catholic religion of a country that encourages friendship, family, and community togetherness. Nor does such behaviour respect other religious traditions.

A good leader is not a Scrooge. Instead, he is one who leads by example and who treats others like he would want to be treated. He or she pays them their earned salaries on time and before vacation. The good deeds done will spread to his dependents when those employees feel the need to return the same kind acts they have experienced. Perhaps employees who are treated well will even pass on good values to future generations in the same field. Furthermore, such ethical leadership that models fairness and honesty spreads afar. Unfortunately, many managers in Italy still continue to act unethically. It makes one question how unkind leaders typically treat their customers. Those Scrooges feel ecstatic when they have power over their dependents’ plates’ of pasta at Easter time as they know some families will be distressed due to Italian managerial negligence. One Italian states, “In the rest of the world, management is a serious thing. In Italy it isn’t.” By taking one day at a time, which they call “l’arte di arrangiarsi”, Italians continue to enjoy Easter.

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