Don’t Worry, I Have Your Best Interest In Mind:

The Story of Hansel and Gretel

"I've left a trail, like last time!" Hansel whispered to Gretel, consolingly. But when night fell, they saw to their horror, that all the crumbs had gone. "I'm frightened!" wept Gretel bitterly. "I'm cold and hungry and I want to go home!"  "Don't be afraid. I'm here to look after you!" Hansel tried to encourage his sister, but he too shivered when he glimpsed frightening shadows and evil eyes around them in the darkness. All night the two children huddled together for warmth at the foot of a large tree.
    When dawn broke, they started to wander about the forest, seeking a path, but all hope soon faded. They were well and truly lost. On they walked and walked, till suddenly they came upon a strange cottage in the middle of a glade.
    "This is chocolate!" gasped Hansel as he broke a lump of plaster from the wall.  "And this is icing!" exclaimed Gretel, putting another piece of wall in her mouth. Starving but delighted, the children began to eat pieces of candy broken off the cottage. "Isn't this delicious?" said Gretel, with her mouth full. She had never tasted anything so nice. "We'll stay here," Hansel declared, munching a bit of nougat. They were just about to try a piece of the biscuit door when it quietly swung open.
   "Well, well!" said an old woman, peering out with a crafty look. "And haven't you children a sweet tooth?" "Come in! Come in, you've nothing to fear!" went on the old woman. Unluckily for Hansel and Gretel, however, the sugar candy cottage belonged to an old witch, her trap for catching unwary victims. The two children had come to a really nasty place.

You finally made it to the wonderful world of management.  Congratulations! Hey, we’ll even throw you a party. Did you model your performance after someone you trusted? Was it someone’s success that you followed in the hopes your exceptional talents would be noticed? You may have had a recent addition to your department that gave you reason to be noticed or become overlooked; possibly you have been given the option to relocate into a different division or department.

Whatever the case, you made it. Everyone will come out of the woodwork to offer your praises, tell you how much you deserve the promotion, or tell you how not to worry because you will do just fine. More importantly, the trusted mentor you had will be there to continue to guide and direct you into even greater success. After all, you just got promoted; things are really looking up for you. You have found the path to success. What happens tomorrow, next week, or next year doesn’t cross your mind. You have more pressing responsibilities to worry about just trying to learn your new position. You think to yourself, “I am here. I can relax now.”

Just when you think you are able to relax and look to the future, you suddenly realize that you have forgotten to stay on the path of success. Looking around, you no longer see the multitude of well-wishers in your office. Did you notice when the phones on your desk stopped ringing? This is the time you should look around and see who is looking in your direction. Is someone hungrily eyeing your office, your title, perchance your position?

Just like Hansel and Gretel, you will find yourself placed into precarious circumstances. Gretel found herself relegated to the mundane tasks of cleaning, housekeeping, and menial tasks. She even found herself having to force feed her brother, Hansel, all the nice, sweet, and delicious tidbits. It was worse yet for Hansel as he was destined to become the proverbial fatted calf.

In this situation, which one is worse:

Allowing someone else to be given the tasty tidbits of your work efforts. This could include giving credit to someone else for the work and projects you created, feeding the ego of a domineering boss, or watching someone else with less capability or education achieving greater financial and professional rewards.


Becoming the target of your peers or supervisor in some hidden agenda or false bravado. You may be given the impressive title of a department destined to be disbanded, downsized, or face a budgetary crisis. It could be an opportunity for a jealous peer to create a sabotage environment where your reputation and work product will be tainted or destroyed.

The fable of Hansel and Gretel has various life lessons that we should aspire to in our personal and professional lives. If we examine those lessons the futility of applying them becomes a futile effort.

The innocence of Hansel and Gretel corresponds to the newly promoted manager as of now untainted or corrupted by the contemporary business model. You, as that new manager, will enter into a fantasy filled gingerbread office never suspecting a malevolent force is on the horizon.

We did not talk about Hansel and Gretel’s father and step-mother. Look to the father (or mother) figure mentor that leads you the path towards success. This mentor just might be the person you think them to be. They may also be involved in the malicious act of misdirection began by the evil step-mother.

In real life, the true test of success in management is not getting to your destination. The level of success for any manager should be measured through the continued interaction with your peers, your superiors, and the corporate structure itself.

Your future appears bright as accept your new position. You can keep it shining by simply keeping an open mind, asking the right questions, maintaining open communication with your peers and subordinates, and managing with moral standards, honor, and integrity. You should also sleep with one eye open and your ear to the door. Knowledge is power and you definitely want knowledge. Best of all, if someone asks you to follow them, make sure you leave a trail of asphalt to follow back.

May 13, 2010

Montgomery Beyer, MBA

The story of hansel and gretel