SIMPLE TRUTH #2: People want their company to succeed

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As I wrote in my previous blog, people want to do work that matters. I view TRUTH #2 as an extension of #1.  It expands beyond the individual person to a larger context of where people want to work and the result they want. They want to be part of a team and connected to something bigger.  SIMPLE TRUTH #2: People want their company to succeed.  

They want be able to take pride in the company they belong to, what it does and what it stands for. They want their company to be successful because they believe it will:

  • Be financially stable and provide them continued employment
  • Attract quality team members they will work with & learn from
  • Have enough employees & other resources to do the work to be successful
  • Reward them financially as they help increase revenue and profits
  • Enable them to grow & develop in their careers as business evolves

Employees know and understand that executives and investors in for-profit companies go in to business to make money.  In fact, they like to make money, too.  They assess your company financials, your leadership and your corporate culture (values and behavior) as they choose employment because they want a return on their investment, too.  Their time away from family and other life activities matters to them.  What your company does (service/product it makes) and what you value in terms of organizational behaviors and how you treat your people has increased in importance to employees over the years.  Many people are willing to work hard because they believe if they contribute to the company’s financial success there will be financial rewards in it for them.

I worked for a company that earned its place on Fortune’s “Top 100 Best Companies to Work For” list because they really were.  They attracted top talent, had the right systems in place for effective business operations, supported employee learning and development and shared their financial success with employees in the form of bonuses and other monetary rewards. The company’s leadership knew that it made money because of the actions of its people and its executives kept that perspective at the forefront of their words and actions. They ‘practiced what they preached’ and I witnessed it firsthand – alignment of words and actions coupled with positive reinforcement works.

Where I see most company leaders lose their employee’s engagement and commitment, is when the financial going gets tough.  Typical leadership actions when they embark on cost-cutting measures are: 1) driving “do more with less resources” behaviors which usually means hiring people who are minimally qualified for the cheapest salaries OR not hiring people at all;  2) not paying performance bonuses when employees have worked hard to help notably increase profits OR adjusting pay scales to reflect increased value of certain job types or cost of living inflation; and 3) cutting spending in training and development – which in turn – creates stagnation in your talent pool and can directly limit the company’s ability to stay relevant and innovative.

Couple those kinds of actions with the fact that technology enables today’s knowledge workers with the resources to know what “market value” is for their talent.  You spend huge amounts of time and effort hiring smart, knowledge workers; yet, when it’s convenient for you, you forget they came to work for your company for the very reasons you cut when the going gets tough.  And although they may work hard for a period of time, they reach a point where they become disillusioned and you get very little output from them.  They disengage.  Eventually, as the market turns around and jobs are available, they go work for another company where they believe they will be appreciated and successful.

When the financial going gets tough, I challenge business leaders to think about other ways to address cost-cutting.  What you are doing isn’t working. Every time you take a cost-cutting measure like #1-3 I listed above, you end up losing the assets that are very thing you need to get your business competitive and profitable again – your people.  They Matter.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2013

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