Friday, January 16, 2009

SAMM Featured In L.A. Times - A Lesson To Be Learned

Save A Mexican Mutt (SAMM), the non-profit rescue my wife and her partner founded six years ago, took from the streets and adopted out more than 150 dogs in 2008. It is a labor of love and the organization's work was recognized earlier this year in Fortune magazine.

Yesterday, SAMM was featured in the Los Angeles Times. Here's the link:

The hard work of Kelly and her volunteers on behalf of the animals reminds me of a lesson some, but not all, employers have learned: Involve your employees in charitable, giving work.

A few years ago I was involved a union counter-organizational effort in San Diego, California. The employees of the company, with the aid and assistance of management, had learned to never be satisfied, to complain about everything. No foul was left uncalled. Indeed, every little event became a major issue proving what they already believed, that they were abused, mistreated, and unappreciated. It was one of the more miserable workplaces I've seen in some time.

Rather than try and convince these employees and their managers that life really wasn't so bad, I decided to show them just how bad life can be. And so I called a few local charities to see who needed help and who might provide the lesson these employees and their managers needed.

I came upon a battered women's shelter in need of food and clothing. The company came up with a thousand dollars but rather than just give it away, we involved the employees and their supervisors in shopping for the merchandise and delivering to the shelter. Once there they had little choice but to hear some of the stories from women who had been beaten, whose greatest fear was that the person who was supposed to love them the most would come home and physically abuse them.

There was not a dry eye in the house and, in short order, the complaining stopped -- on both sides of the aisle. They recognized and were embarrassed about their complaints, if only because like most of us, they had nothing of import to complain about. We are the fortunate, the blessed, the lucky.

In these tough economic times, it may be difficult to do your employees many favors bought with dollars, but here is one favor you can do for them -- find a worthwhile charity that needs help, not just money but help and involve your employees in the effort. The lessons will be worth more than most can understand -- until they have seen it.

P.S. In San Diego, I'm told the employees still go to the women's shelter after several years, still help, and that all is well.

We wish you well in 2009.


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