Canadian Transport Sourcebook

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Canadian Transport Sourcebook > All works> 52 Questions on the Nationalization of Canadian Railways > Chapter 7


What makes Morale?

Morale is a combination of two opposites.

First: Spirit.

Second: Discipline.

A body of men all Discipline lacks initiative, resilience, resourcefulness, "come-back." A body all Spirit cannot long remain organized. Spirit is the horse; Discipline the harness. The ideal is the lightest possible harness with the swiftest possible horse.

So in the great organizations of railways scattered, as they lie, across thousands of miles of territory, varied in climate, industry, interest and topography.

What Provides the Spirit in Morale?

Five things, I think, provide the element of Spirit:

"A's" hope of earning more money. "B's" desire for greater authority and more money. "C's" ambition to be the head! To be master! To control the organization!

"D" asks only the satisfaction of duty done.

"E" asks only to be allowed to serve his country.

"D" and "E" must be eliminated at once. They may be excellent men, but the calculations of great organizations carrying on prosaic businesses in Peace time or in War time cannot be based on exceptional and accidental men. They must, I conclude, be based on "A," "B," and "C." These three men respond to universal, constant and reliable motives to which wise managements know how to appeal.

"A's" desire to earn more money is common to all. It affects the work-man, the private in the ranks, as well as the officer.

"B" and "C" are usually of the officer class, or are potentially officials.

"B," to earn the greater authority for which he craves, realizes that he must prove himself able to "hold" his men. Must know his work and know their tools. Must apply the principles of leadership. Otherwise he has strikes on his hands, or inefficient work.

"C," seeking promotion, must show, in addition to "B's" qualities, resourcefulness in overcoming difficulties, invention in improving the means of labor, alertness in anticipating trouble, energy in forestalling it,—and judgment! Thus in "A," "B", and "C" I observe the working of Spirit.

But Spirit is Easily Quenched?

Precisely! Spirit dies unless the ambitious worker is confident that if he manifests good qualities he will be recognized by some officer higher up.

Spirit dies if the worker feels that the officer with the responsibility has yet not the full power to reward.

Spirit dies if the worker finds he is not to be judged by a single known standard, that is for merit, and merit as a railroader only, but for other considerations, and on outside standards of judgment. At this point the worker stops and the wire-puller begins.

So far three conditions, you observe. But the fourth is most essential. The "top" must be open. The ultimate rewards in sight must be adequate to the man. Your potential member of the firm does not long remain in a concern that will never yield him a partnership. The brighter your servant the more eagerly she aspires to some other work where she may some day be her own proprietor. The potentially great railway expert does not long remain in a system where "the top" is closed, where the highest posts and final authorities are for appointees of Parliament, not railroaders.

He goes to private service—in the armies of generals whom he may dream of succeeding!

What Provides Discipline?

Discipline is obtained, of course, by withholding reward, or delaying it, or by discharge. It must be administered by men (1) competent to judge, (2) to judge fairly, (3) to judge by single known standards, and (4) to put their judgment into effect.

[Public Domain] Copyright/Licence: This work was first published in 1964 or earlier, and the author of the work was anonymous. To the best of my knowledge, the author of the work was unknown at the end of the year 50 years after the work was published, meaning that this work would be in the public domain in Canada, per section 6.2 of the Copyright Act. Note also this link. See disclaimers.