Teach A Man To Fish


A few years ago I was working for a multinational company, heading up one of their local practice divisions. I was approached by one of the other practice heads asking if I had some resource to help him with a temporary staffing shortfall. More specifically, they were short processing staff to raise monthly client invoices. The staff member primarily responsible for this function had recently departed and had not yet been replaced. There was a lack of processing expertise amongst the remaining staff to pick up the short-term slack.

Being a helpful, sharing, caring sort of team player, I was only too happy to help out. At the time I had an employee on my team who:

  1. Was an expert with the company’s processing system;
  2. Loved to help others any opportunity she had; and
  3. Had some spare capacity.

Perfect! Right?

Not so fast.

What was being asked was if I could ‘loan’ this resource to do some processing of invoices. Going a step further, I suggested that she would have sufficient time to be able to up-skill the existing staff, so that they would be able handle some of their own processing whilst their manager searched for a permanent solution. After all, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime.

The response to my proposal: “Thanks. Leave it with me. I’ll get back to you.”

Naturally, that never happened.

The other manager was fearful that if his existing staff were provided with the skills and knowledge to be able process invoices, senior management would reject his business case to replace the recently departed processing assistant and elect instead to save the personnel costs by spreading the workload over the remaining employees. (Note – this concern was NOT unreasonable.)

So, how was the situation resolved?

Rather than accept the offer of assistance, the manager reduced his division’s estimated income for the subsequent month to $0, on the basis that there was no resource available to process invoices. Further, it was indicated that this situation would continue until approval was received to hire a replacement processing assistant.

Approval was duly granted. A replacement was hired. Problem solved.

And, importantly, nobody else had to learn to fish for themselves!

So with that in mind, here are some variations on the theme:

The Philosopher:


The Entrepreneur:

TAMTF Entrepreneur

The Politician:


The Sociopath:

TAMTF Murderer

The Pessimist:

TAMTF Pessimist

The Pessimist (2):

TAMTF Pessimist 2

The Reality:

TAMTF Reality

My Favourite:

TAMTF Swanson


Author: Steven Macek

I learnt a long time ago that in order to grow it is necessary to step outside one’s comfort zone. As a person who craves growth and change this has led me to continually seek out opportunities to make myself uncomfortable, whether physically, emotionally or psychologically. The (Dis)Comfort Zone blog is a vehicle for cataloging those experiences.

3 thoughts on “Teach A Man To Fish”

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