Be Careful with Your Most important Asset
A new study led by Baylor University demonstrates a correlation between a manager’s focus on bottom line results and their employees’ lack of performance. According to the research led by Dr. Matthew Quade and published in the journal Human Relations, “Supervisors who focus only on profits to the exclusion of caring about other important outcomes, such as employee well-being or environmental or ethical concerns, turn out to be detrimental to employees.”
The article continues by saying that these employer-employee “relationships … are marked by distrust, dissatisfaction and lack of affection for the supervisor” which produces “employees who are less likely to complete tasks at a high level and less likely to go above and beyond the call of duty.” Managers must be careful about what they wish for. Because they might get it.
When managers focus too much on the bottom line, then employees consciously or unconsciously respond negatively. Here’s how you can rescue your company’s productivity and profitability by making your bottom line not the bottom line.
Damaged relationships produce a damaged bottom line
As I said in my first bestseller, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew,
the American workplace is not the place where people are being taught that they are valued. Some may argue that is not the responsibility of business. We don’t tend to think of companies being places where people are loved and cared for. As Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey and Raj Sisodia explain in Conscious Capitalism, “people tend to think of love and care as something we only share with our families, friends, or community organizations. This cultural bias comes from the common belief that love and care interfere with effectiveness in the real world. People see the marketplace as a jungle of competition; they fear that businesses that emphasize love and care cannot possibly be competitive and win. In fact, the opposite is true. Love and care are not weak virtues; they are the strongest of all human traits.” …
Mackey validates this “touchy feely” perspective with Whole Foods’ multi-billion-dollar annual sales revenue. He and his co-author of Conscious Capitalism state that “this way of doing business not only creates a great deal of well-being and happiness for all the stakeholders, but it is also the secret to sustained high performance.” Mackey and Sisodia believe the American business model has forgotten that the people that they employ are human beings, and they cannot check their humanity at the workplace door. “In recent years, the myth that business is and must be about maximization of profits … has robbed most businesses of the ability to engage and connect with people at their deepest levels.” As a result, people do not associate giving of the best that they are to their place of employment. They are not used to it, and they have not been inspired to reach for it; people cannot give what they do not have.
Treating employees as humans produces outstanding bottom line results
Continuing along those same lines from Dear Boss,
Mackey and Sisodia document through a study of eighteen businesses over a ten-year period that having a purposeful, healthy, and team-oriented culture will produce outstanding financial returns. These are the six points they used to describe the companies in the study.
First, the companies did not state their goal as “maximizing shareholder concerns.” Second, most of these companies pay their team members well and provide generous benefits. … Third, these companies paid taxes at a much higher rate than that paid by most other companies. Fourth, the selected companies did not squeeze their suppliers to secure the lowest possible price. … Fifth, [they] invested a lot in their communities … Finally, they provided great customer value and outstanding customer service. …[The authors] found that these companies not only do all those good things, but also deliver extraordinary returns to their investors, outperforming the market to buy a nine-to-one ratio over ten years (from 1996 to 2006). … [T]hese same companies outperformed the S&P 500 index by a factor of 10.5 over that period.
The secret to high performing employees
Here’s how you can change how you treat your employees, based on my book, Dear Boss.
The secret to showing that you care about your employees is the same way you get good employees to come to work at your company—and then stay with your company. The secret is not really a secret. It’s treating everyone the way you would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). In a word, it’s love.
When I say the word love, I am not talking about a romantic kind of love. I am talking about a New Testament kind of love. The Bible writers used the Greek words agape and agapao to describe love in a social or moral sense. This is the kind of love that Jesus said we should have for our neighbor: We should agapao our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).
When you have a positive environment where your employees feel the love—or agape—then they will feel that you care about them. This kind of love should apply not just while they’re on the job, but for them as a whole person. …
Look after your team. Take more than a casual interest in their home life. Be actively concerned about their welfare. Don’t think about only what your team can do for you. Think about what you can do for them. … They are humans before they are employees.
The Baylor University study has confirmed what Scripture told us thousands of years ago: Results come from relationships. We have to be willing to care for people more than just for what they can do for us in the bottom line. We have to be willing to invest in them—and in their lives—so that they will be willing to invest themselves in the company, its goals, and its profitability.
Did you know that I
* Perform organizational culture assessments,
* Coach leaders how best to lead their teams, and
* Train teams how to best perform like a team?
To find out more, check out my first bestseller, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew.