4 Aug 2014

Managing the Common Herd – Julie O’Callaghan

[1954–current, born America, migrated to Ireland in 1974]

      two approaches for senior management

THEORY x: People are naturally lazy. 
They come late, leave early, feign illness. 
When they sit at their desks 
it’s ten to one they’re yakking to colleagues 
on the subject of who qualifies as a gorgeous hunk. 
They’re coating their lips and nails with slop, 
a magazine open to ‘What your nails say about you’ 
or ‘Ten exercises to keep your bottom in top form’ 
under this year’s annual report. 
These people need punishment; 
they require stern warnings 
and threats – don’t be a coward, 
don’t be intimidated by a batting eyelash.
Stand firm: a few tears, a Mars Bar, 
several glasses of cider with her pals tonight 
and you’ll be just the same old 
rat-bag, mealy-mouthed, small-minded tyrant 
you were before you docked her 
fifteen minutes pay for insubordination.
      Never let these con-artists get the better of you. 

THEORY z: Staff need encouragement. 
Give them a little responsibility 
and watch their eager faces lighting up. 
Let them know their input is important. 
Be democratic – allow all of them 
their two cents worth of gripes. 
(Don’t forget this is the Dr Spock generation.) 
If eight out of twelve of them 
prefer green garbage cans to black ones 
under their desks, be generous – 
the dividends in productivity 
will be reaped with compound interest. 
Offer incentives, show them 
it’s to their own advantage to meet targets. 
Don’t talk down to your employees. 
Make staff believe that they 
have valid and innovative ideas 
and that not only are you interested. 
but that you will act upon them.
      Remember, they’re human too.

Source:   O’Callaghan, J 1991, What’s What, Bloodaxe Books. 


  1. Can I know whether the poet has written another section of the same poem with a subtitle Theory Y?

    1. I'm not aware of any poem by Julie O’Callaghan with the subtitle "Theory Y".