Perspective of the Day — Treat Your People Right

What You Feel: Everyone Should Be Like You

Perspective: I used to think that the most important thing in building a new business was the right strategy. What I failed to appreciate, and only learned after making many mistakes, was what Good to Great nailed, which was “people first, strategy second.” I expected people to drive themselves and figured they don’t need to be aligned, engaged or inspired. If they weren’t self-motivated, once they knew what we were really doing, they would be inspired and would hop out of bed at 6 a.m. without an alarm and say to themselves, I am part of a company that is going to change the world. They wouldn’t worry about their mortgage, sick child, struggling marriage, aging relative, medical bills or the cost of their bus pass. It seems silly as I put these words on the page. Boy was I wrong.

How you take care of your people tells you more about your company and you as a leader than anything. Nothing demonstrates cultural values more than how you treat your people. A commitment to your people has many positive effects. It drives their commitment to the vision. It creates ambassadors for your company. When you or your company are criticized, they will defend you. It creates a recruiting department when you don’t have one. Customers notice and want to do business with you. Employees will take constructive criticism .

Treat your people like fungible assets that can be replaced at any time, and watch the negative effects. When one thing goes bad, ten things will go bad. When an obstacle occurs, they will blame others. When you provide constructive criticism, they will look for a job. When you or your company are criticized, they will pile on. How you view and treat your employees is more of a reflection you and your company than almost anything you do.

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