Employees are Not Pawns

Have you ever worked at a company where the everyday employee was treated as if they were expendable? There was likely either an owner who alone or with the cooperation of a favored few simply ran roughshod over everyone else. They perhaps have either forgotten or chosen to ignore the reality that employees are not pawns to be manipulated like they were part of some sort of game. If you’ve ever played the board game of chess you know that pawns are sometimes sacrificed to benefit a player’s overall strategy. But, in business we’re not dealing with an inanimate object when it comes to employees. Yet still, in some cases they are treated as if they don’t matter and in essence treated like sacrificial pawns used to benefit not just the company but the owner and/or certain employees.

A Risk

Just as in chess when you misuse pawns you put the king and queen at risk, in business you put managers and owners and even the business at risk if you trash and abuse lower-level employees. While at first it may appear expedient to pass the blame for something that went wrong onto another employee or to claim credit for something they achieved, in the end this harms relationships and in the process the company itself as employees are, as it is often said, a company’s most valuable assets. Keep this in mind as a reminder that employees are not pawns to be manipulated.

Why It Matters

So, why does this matter? Quite simply, if the ownership and upper management of a company forget that employees are not pawns they may soon find they are running a company with revolving doors and employees leaving at the worst time. After all, if an employee is working diligently and making real contributions, then to not acknowledge this as well as keep them up-to-speed on what is happening in the company makes them believe they don’t really matter. As a result, a number of things can happen. One, they begin to slack off, thinking, “It seems that no matter how much I contribute management doesn’t acknowledge it, so why bother.” Two, they may simply say, “That’s it. I’m going somewhere I’m appreciated.” Three, they begin to grumble amongst themselves and the overall attitude in the company deteriorates, sometimes to the point that it is almost impossible to recover. Here we’re largely dealing with keeping the lines of communication open and functioning so that employees don’t become frustrated.


So make sure employees stay engaged. Consider such things a flex time and part-time as well as full-time employees. How do you treat an employee who has a sudden emergency that requires some flexibility to handle? How do you welcome a new employee and fully get them involved? How do you handle it when an employee leaves for what represents career advancement? How do you deal with the unpleasant situation where an employee’s performance needs to be addressed or they may even need to be let go

So, what about your company? Are employees treated like pawns to be taken advantage of or like real, living human beings that matter?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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