31 October 2016

Judging & Punishing Rightly according to Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 74

If you want a productive and engaged workforce, it is not theory X or theory Y of management but a combination in the right order. This leads us to the wisdom of making the right judgment. If we are unable to collect the evidence and have the wisdom to judge rightly, we should leave it to God or else we will be hurting ourselves said Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 74.
DaoDeJing Chapter 74 Text and Translation

民不畏死,奈何以死惧之。
The people are not afraid of death (because of the hardship to make a living due to the policies of exploitation). How could we use the threat of death to cause fear in them?

若使民常畏死,而为奇者。
[The right way] is to cause the people to fear dead, so that when they try to be 'funny' (break the laws),
吾得执而杀之,孰敢!
we can use the laws to kill them. Then who dare [to violate the laws]?

常有司杀者杀。
There is the eternal judge that punishes the murderers with death.

夫代司杀者杀,是谓代斲大匠。
If we take the place of the eternal judge and kill,  then we are like taking over the cutting of the skillful master

斲夫代大匠者,希有不伤其手矣!
Those that do the cutting of the great master, will they not seldom harm their own hands?

Using Exploitations & Threats do NOT work
Using people as a means of production will cause the greatest exploitation of labor.  Bosses want to pay the lowest wages, provide the bare minimum of benefits, and work environment and then want them to work the longest hours. If such causes the workers to be so miserable and so much suffering that they wish to leave the company, then threatening them with firing from their jobs will not work. They would choose to quit as early as possible.

The Effective Motivation Method
Lao Zi teaches us the better and more effective way. That is to make the work so desirable that they want to stay with the company. Then, the firing from violations of the company policies will work well because they all want to stay and not be fired. So, rule by fear only works if the people want to live and fear death. So, create a society where people want to live is the pre-requisite for rule by laws. Getting it wrong will only result in exploitation of the people and finally a revolt to overthrow the rulers by the exploited people who no longer fear death because of the suffering. So Lao Zi is not merely talking about theory X or theory Y of management. He tells us to treat people like theory Y, have minimum restrictions, but has a strict implementation of the discipline of theory X when it comes to the violation.

So, don't talk about how to stop people from leaving or reducing the turnover rate, but rather, invert the question and change it to how we can motivate our people to love the company enough to want to stay.

Trust the Eternal Judge and Take not the Laws into Our Own Hand
The above exploitation of people is just an example of how we lack the wisdom about men and their desires that we make the erroneous prejudgement that men are basically lazy and weak and must, therefore be threatened and exploited to get them to work.  Lao Zi reminded us that 'justice' system is at work all the time. There is the law of cause and effect that is a work. The sin of the people will eventually discover them and punishes the sinners. We don't have to do work for God. If we want to, then we must be like Him, be full of wisdom and knowledge and be fair and right. There are steps for us judge wisely. They are:

1. Understanding the Laws of right and wrong.
2. Collecting of evidence. A clear understanding of what actually happen. These require consolidations of multiple witness accounts as well.
3  Making a judgment, an inference, of the intention from the acts. This is definitely not easy and prone to biases and errors. It is inferring from the seen to the unseen.
4. Understanding of the Consequences of violation and they are made clear in the first place.
5. Melting out punishments according to published laws in the right degree to the violation.

Most of us like to prejudge, without collection or validation of evidence, and jump to conclusions about the intentions of people and their behavior. It is obvious that we could easily make serious errors. Do so, Lao Zi warns us, we will suffer and hurt ourselves for such lack of wisdom and impulsive act.

Lim Liat (c) 31 Oct 2016



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