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Mutual Obligations of
Master and Servant

From 'The Dictionary of Daily Wants' - 1858-1859

Please note that the original version is split into two paragraphs only, which would have made it difficult to read online.

MASTER AND SERVANT, MUTUAL OBLIGATIONS OF. - It is universally admitted that a good master makes a good servant; and one of the best signs of a proper understanding existing between the employer and the employed is furnished by servants remaining for a lengthened period in the same situations. A master should treat his servant with firmness but not with severity; he should lead his servant to understand that whan to once ordered anything to be done, he expected it to be promptly and properly obeyed, without being compelled to reiterate the order. A master should observe habits of regularity in his own proceedings, and thus get an example to those under him, which they are almost sure to follow. A servant should be paid at a fair and just rate for his services; no saving is in reality effected by underpayment; it sometimes makes servants dishonest, and always renders them careless and negligent.

As length of service increases, and when the servant has conducted himself well, an occasional augmentation of wages will not be ill-bestowed; or the recognition of fidelity and good service may take the form of some periodical and seasonable gift. A master may advantageously drop occasionally the character of the employer for that of the friend, giving good advice on personal matters, and making inquiries in connection with their welfare; but on doing this, anything approaching to familiarity should be avoided, nor should such intercourse partake of an inquisitorial character. Servants should never be reproved before strangers; whatever faults they commit should be censured privately; the reproof will then have all the greater force, and the manner of giving it will be appreciated by every sensible servant. A master should carefully avoid comissioning his servant in questionable offices, as, for instance, inducing him to tell a falsehood, or ordering him to commit some mean act by which a petty advantage may be gained. By such a course of conduct all moral restraint will be lost, and the servant will in all probability avail himself of similar acts against his master's interest.

Family quarrels and disputes with any member of the househould never be carried on in the presence of a servant; such displays have a tendency to lessen the parties in the eyes of the servant, and encourage acts of insubordination. No master should make a confidant of his servant, or intrust him with any secret to his prejudice; this at once gives a servant undue importance, and leads him to take liberties which he would not otherwise dare to contemplate. Some allowance should bę made for the feelings and sufferings of a servant; thus, when he is overtaken by illness, or visited with affliction, he should be treated with merciful consideration; such a concession is never thrown away, for should an employer subsequently share a similar fate, he will find in his servant a sincere sympathizer and a watchful attendant. Servants should be indulged in occasional holidays and hours of relaxation; under these conditions, labour will be performed with more alacrity and greater interest.

The duties of a servant towards his employer may be summed as follows: He should implicitly obey the orders given him, without murmur or dissent. He should also endeavour to gain a knowledge of his employer's habits, and anticipate his wishes, so as to spare the necessity of being continually reminded of duties which he is sure to be called upon to perform. A servant should avoid giving himself airs of consequence, or acting or speaking impertinently; such conduct only serves to display his ignorance, and an unfitness for the situation he holds. All duties should be performed as conscientiously in the employer's absence as in his presence; eye-service is a species of hypocrisy which must be sooner or later detected, with very humiliating consequences. A servant should act with the same zeal and probity on his employer's behalf as he would for his own; any petty advantage gained by aa opposite course a more than counterbalanced by the guilty consciousness of wrong, and may be attended by an irretrievable loss of character.

Whatever is done or said by the members of a family, which may be repeated to their prejudice, should never be carried beyond the walls of the house; a servant who circulates gossip and scandal respecting the household in which he lives, is unworthy of his trust, and brands himself as a domestic spy and a traitor. Harsh expressions and hasty words, occasionally addressed by an employer to his servant, should be overlooked instead of being resented. This is sometimes difficult of observance, but it never fails to be appreciated, and will invariably win respect and esteem.

A servant should always be true to his promise; thus when he is permitted leave of absence on condition that he return at a stated time, he should be back at his post to the minute; any extra liberty taken beyond that stipulated for is calculated to irritate an employer, and by shaking his confidence, renders him reluctant to grant a like indulgence on a future occasion. Truthfulness and stralghtforward conduct should be ever observed; when a servant has committed an error, or has met with some mishap in the performance of his duties, he should not endeavour to screen himself by subterfuge and misrepresentation, but at once acknowledge the fault he has committed, or reveal the accident that has befallen him.

A servant should be cheerful and willing, and content with the station which has been assigned him; he should remember that there must of necessity be some grades in life lower than others; and, in order that he may reconcile himself to this order of things, he should contrast his lot with that of thousands who are much worse situated than himself; and find comfort in the fact that he is spared the responsibilities and vexations which attach themselves to the higher spheres of society.



Organization Theory: Selected Classic Readings

Organization Theory: Selected Classic Readings
by Derek Pugh
  This book spans seventy years of theory from Max Weber's seminal writings on bureaucratic organization to the latest management thinking represented by Handy, Peters and Waterman. Covering three main areas of interest, those of the structure of organizations, management and decision making, as well as that of organizational behaviour, this thoroughly revised and updated edition contains a vast amount of new contributions.
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