• Thu. Dec 9th, 2021

Janeane's World

We train teams to work with confidence and competence. Call: 484 381 0532. Email: janeanedavis@janeanesworld.com.

“Madam and her Madam” by Langston Hughes and 3 Lessons for Entrepreneurs.

“Madam and her Madam” by Langston Hughes and three lessons for entrepreneurs.

 

During the month of February each year all across the United States, people celebrate Black History Month. This blog was created to encourage, inspire, and motivate people to be their best at work and home. During the month of February each year, we share poems from my favorite author, Langston Hughes. Each poem is analyzed to show why Hughes words, written so long ago are appropriate for today’s entrepreneurs.

So, sit back read the beautiful words, enjoy my video presentation of the poetry, then check out the analysis. Stay with us for the entire month and feel free to share your own video interpretation in the comments. Today’s poem is: ” Madam and her Madam ”

I worked for a woman,
She wasn’t mean—
But she had a twelve-room
House to clean.

Had to get breakfast,
Dinner, and supper, too—
Then take care of her children
When I got through.

Wash, iron, and scrub,
Walk the dog around—
It was too much,
Nearly broke me down.

I said, Madam,
Can it be
You trying to make a
Pack-horse out of me?

This poem has three lessons for entrepreneurs. These lessons are:

1. Treat your employees with respect
2. Be clear about what you expect your employees to do
3. Do not overtax your employees

If an employee pays attention to these three lessons employees will be happier, productivity will be good, employee retention numbers will be high. One reason for these results is that when employees are respected, have a clear understanding, and are not unreasonably overburdened, they are more likely to stay with an employer.

 

Treat your employees with respect.

 

If you want to keep your employees, start by treating them with respect. In this poem, the employee, Madam does not have animosity towards her boss Madam. She states,

I worked for a woman,
She wasn’t mean—
But she had a twelve-room
House to clean.

 

In this part of the poem, Madam makes it clear that her boss is not a mean person. She also makes it clear that her boss expects her to do a lot of work. Employees should certainly expect that they will be asked to work while they are at work. It should also be expected, that there may be a lot of work to do. After all, if there was not a lot to do, there would be no need for the employee. Respect is something that should be given to all employees, period. Every employee, from the person who cleans the floors, to the person who signs the checks should be treated with respect. This, in fact, is the bare minimum that employees are entitled to receive.

 

Be clear about what you expect your employees to do.

 

Madam, the employee had a clear list of tasks she was expected to perform each day.

Had to get breakfast,
Dinner, and supper, too—
Then take care of her children
When I got through.

Wash, iron, and scrub,
Walk the dog around—

 

It is best to give employees a clear idea of what they should be doing each day. It is not reasonable to expect employees to succeed at work if what success means is not clearly defined. When employees have a clearly defined job description or list of tasks to perform, it is easier to determine their level of productivity. If you do not have written job descriptions for your employees, take action now to create them. If you do have written job descriptions, make sure to add a sentence stating that the employer has the right to change, amend, or eliminate job descriptions as the employer sees fit.

 

Do not overtax your employees.

 

While it is important to respect employees and to be clear about what is expected of them, one should not overtax their employees. Any employer who works their employees to death or overburdens them on a regular basis makes a mistake. Employees, like employers, should not burn the candle at both ends. One can do a lot better when one works hard instead of merely working hard. At the end of the poem, the employee Madam thought that boss Madam was treating her as an animal and not as a person.

It was too much,
Nearly broke me down.

I said, Madam,
Can it be
You trying to make a
Pack-horse out of me?

 

When your employees think that you think they are tools or animals to be worked to death, bad things will happen. It is important to remember that employees are people and they should be treated as valuable assets and not as chattel.

The beauty of this poem is that there are three lessons for entrepreneurs: employees deserve respect, employer expectations should be clear, and employees are not animals to be worked to death. An entrepreneur would be well served to remember these lessons. Tune in tomorrow when we will highlight the poem, ” Feet o’ Jesus ” to get three more lessons for entrepreneurs.