A good friend of mine from college has always explained to me how there is so much to learn from the bees. Patient, hard working, disciplined, meticulous are some of the many virtues that the bees have, he would explain.
While initially I didn’t pay too much attention I was impressed with the amount of passion he showed every time we would have a conversation about bees. Eventually I started ‘listening’ to him and realised why he was so enamoured by the bees. Watching the bees at work was a truly an amazing experience.
I hit upon this article by Dr N Ganapathy, a professor at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore who explains that there are several management lessons that we could learn by standing before a hive and watching the ways of the bees from the bees. These are the 6 lessons he outlined:
LESSON 1 : DIVIDE DUTIES
Bees lead a structured life. Their roles are well defined, and they are genetically programmed not to trespass into another’s territory. The drones mate with the queen. The queen lays eggs, and the worker bees are beasts of burden. The last lot handles every responsibility from scavenging, storing pollen and processing the nectar to feeding the queen bee. There is no conflict of roles, and that’s the perfect model to adopt in any organisation. Let’s say, you define waking up and going to work as a daily goal. That’s not a definite goal. A professional goal needs clarity. It must be worth achieving so that a specific outcome can be expected, as is the case with bees working towards one clear goal — to produce honey.
LESSON 2: CO-OPERATE
The spirit of cooperation is more important to bees than the spirit of competition, explained Ganapathy. It takes a cluster of them to derive honey; they know they can’t do it alone. And this is possible only because they coexist. Members of a professional team must bring in their own experience and expertise to a project to help create an effective product. Communicating and sharing ideas is crucial, as is mutual respect for each member’s contribution.
LESSON 3: BE LOYAL
Loyalty to one’s community is key to its long term survival. If bees are storing pollen and processing nectar from a mango plant, they will not be distracted until the time they are done working on that particular plant. Ganapathy said, “In a very silent way, there’s a mutual understanding between the flower and the bee about what they’d like to achieve from each other. The flowers trust them because over time, bees have established themselves as a loyal species.” A loyal employee is one who sticks to guidelines, working hours and meets.
LESSON 4: WORK HARD
Ever watched a worker honey bee do her job? She’s perpetually on her feet, just like the matriarch who saves for the future. The honey bees’ work ethics have even inspired adages (‘being busy as a bee’, ‘be the bee’s knees’). “Drones (male bees), however, are lazy. They do no work, which is why the worker honey bees (female) end up attacking them,” said Ganapathy. “This could happen to you some day, if you sit around warming your chair, letting others take the workload!”
In the modern workplace, loyalty is an ethic that’s highly valued. Remember, most employers want to hire professionals they can nurture so that the company stands to gain. Over time, this loyalty reaps benefits for the employee too, whether it’s through perks or promotion.
LESSON 5: BE PUNCTUAL
Punctuality is a common professional ethic that most of us fall short on. For bees, everything depends on the sun. They start their day soon after the sun rises, and return to their hives around 3.30 pm (unless the skies are overcast). Keeping time helps them deliver optimum results. In a professional set up, the workplace operates smoothly when workers stick to time. Being late often ups stress levels, and that’s not the best state to be in if you wish to be productive. Being habitually late can lock you into a pattern. When tardiness becomes the norm, even your job might be in jeopardy.
LESSON 6: DUTY COMES FIRST, RIGHTS NEXT
For bees, society comes first, the self comes later. It’s a fiercely protective species. In a hive, one worker bee serves as a guard who prosecutes intruders who try breaking into the hive. If threatened, it stings. “When a bee stings, it dies. It sacrifices its own life to protect its community and colleagues. For bees, it is duty first,” said Ganapathy.
Look around and you will always learn…..1