Give and ye shall receive


“Cast your bread upon the water and it will come back a ham sandwich”

Author: Polly Davies
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 3 years old.

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In her book; ‘Becoming An Employer Of Choice’ Judith Leary -Joyce describes the leadership philosophy of John Crabtree, former senior partner at Wragge & Co, now Chairman at White&Black. 

“Cast your bread upon the water and it will come back a ham sandwich”.  It is a philosophy put forward by all the spiritual disciplines: give freely and you will receive in return. 

John says, if you go about your business in a helpful, supportive way, pushing yourself out, giving bits of yourself everywhere – putting the bread on the water, it will all come back.  You won’t just get the bread back – it will come back with butter on it, and if you’re very good, it’ll come back as a ham sandwich.  Doing something because you think you should or it would be nice to do it is never a waste of time.  Perhaps in a totally unconnected way, a year later, a major universal, intergalactic corporate holdings plc will call and say: “We gather you did something a year ago at such-and-such and we want to give you some work”.  If you have that approach to your work it always comes back in some experience.

According to Leary-Joyce, Crabtree stopped using the ham sandwich phrase when colleagues got fed up with his jargon(!), but the principle that you get out what you put in is a strong one.  The creation of a sense of belonging for employees within a healthy workplace culture significantly enhances the likelihood they will perform to the best of their abilities, increasing production, delivering quality and enhancing your business reputation overall.  You don’t have to provide the plush surroundings of a blue chip city firm to become an employer of choice.  Attitude and the ham sandwich principle are key.  

Polly Davies

Legal Advisor

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