There once was a soldier who depended very much on his horse as he fought in the battles of war. Needing the horse to be in top condition the soldier took very good care of the horse. In return the horse was able to function very well for the soldier and the two together were very successful.
Once the war had been won the soldier and the horse relaxed to enjoy the daily routines of normal life. No longer did the soldier pay attention to the horse and failed to treat the horse with proper food and shelter but demanding the horse take on the demands of drudging work.
War broke out again and the soldier went to his horse ready to write him into new battles. But when the soldier attempted to ride the horse into battle the wretched beast collapsed, saying that the poor treatment had turned him into a donkey and he would not be restored to a trusty steed in just a moment.
Moral of the story as it applies to the business world
If we compare managers to the soldier and compare employees to the horses we see a business culture that is all too common in the contemporary business world. Soldiers appreciate their weapons and tools during the time of battle and even as they see the battle approaching. But with no pending battle they often take less care of the battlefield tools and use them for the generally intended purposes.
Unfortunately many managers perform in the same manner. Starting out a company, expanding it are engaging in special projects to steal market share from competitors it is easy to see employees as valuable assets. During more routine times of business they see their employees as commodities – in place just get the job done.
The fact is that employees are typically the only asset the company owns that will appreciate in value. As the soldier learned, this value appreciation can become asset depreciation if the asset (employee) is taken for granted.