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  • Writer's pictureRich Haglund

Was old Fezziwig the best manager ever?

I've been enjoying one of our family Christmas traditions: reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with our kids before we watch the TNT film version starring Patrick Stewart.

In the story, Ebeneezer Scrooge was apprenticed in the shop of "old Fezziwig." In the part we read last night, the Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge and his fellow apprentice at the end of a workday. They're all cleaning up to throw an office Christmas celebration. The evening is fun and merry and wonderful, with food and drink and dancing (there's a lot of attention on Fezziwig's calves dancing like moons).

At one point, Scrooge and the Ghost have this conversation:

“A small matter,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.”

“Small!” echoed Scrooge.

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done so, said— “Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”

“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”

Shawn Achor recently wrote about research showing that each time you give true, genuine praise, you save your organization $10,000 (summarized here).

Frankly, trying to figure out how much money could be saved by giving praise sounds like something Scrooge would do.

Using your power for good, and not for evil, as old Fezziwig did, is just the right thing to do. Would you rather use your power to render your team members "happy or unhappy," to "make [their] service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil?"

You can make a world of difference with words and looks that may seem insignificant to you. So, make a resolution to be that kind of difference maker. And start today!

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