Today is another addition to those “literary posts” that I have already shared with you. This day is a day we take some additional advice from the greatest playwright of our time and apply it to the business world and your recruiting department, because what Shakespeare taught us about love and war, he can also teach us about business. These lessons are most applicable to your Internal Recruiting Staff.  Today’s topic: Othello.

If you are unfamiliar with the plot of the play, here is a very brief summary: This is another of William Shakespeare’s tragedies centered on a man named Othello, a highly esteemed general in the Venetian service. He has an ambitious friend named Iago who becomes incredibly jealous when he promotes another friend, Michael Cassio to the position of personal lieutenant. Iago starts a campaign to smear Othello’s name. Othello elopes with his love, Desdemona, but Iago continues to plot against them. This causes Othello to become suspicious of Desdemona and, not knowing of his friend’s treachery, confides in Iago that he plans to poison her. He finds out the truth after it is too late.

There are three lessons we can learn from this play that apply in the business world and your office environment, and they are…

  1.  Don’t let jealousy or negative emotion prevent you from making a practical decision. Othello let the jealousy that he felt with Desdemona cloud his decision making. He was so convinced that the things Iago was telling him were true that he didn’t stop to think about what the truth actually was or could have been and instead acted emotionally instead of logically. This can happen to you as well with any business decision – emotions like excitement, eagerness, or the more negative ones like those plaguing Othello in the play – can make you act too rashly or make poor decisions. Think first, and then act.
  2. Don’t cut yourself off from others. When Othello, Desdemona and the others left Venice for the island, they found themselves with little to nothing to do. Because of this, they did one of the only things that they could think to do and that was pick apart and turn on each other (sound familiar ???). Always promote clarity and community within your office. Frequently, people say or do things that can cause big ripples without even realizing the extent of their comments, so good policy and clarity of communication and focus is very beneficial.
  3. Keep your cards close to your chest. I’m not saying that it is bad to trust people that you work with, but I do think that it is good never to let any single person know everything you have planned. If you spread information out between various sources you can still get the feedback you need to help you create a greater picture. If Othello had not shared his plan with Iago, he may have had more time to stew and realize the negative aspects of what he wanted to do.

 The point of these “literature” blogs is to remind you that the best ways to handle your business is to learn that lessons can be found just about anywhere and the sooner you start looking, the more you will find them in places you would never expect. To stay at the edge of issues on HR and staffing, be sure to subscribe to the Human Capital Supply Chain Blog.

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