What your checking account can teach you about investing in people
At some point in our life we’ve seen the dreaded notification, “your funds are overdrawn.” I remember a time when they would mail you a piece of paper with the actual words written on it along with the money you deducted and the negative balance that you were carrying. Eventually banks started overdraft protection which allowed you to go into the negative up to a certain degree because they trusted you had the funds somewhere to cover the overage. Those four words of “your funds are overdrawn” bring out an emotion in everyone as we know where we were when we realized that we perhaps bought something we shouldn’t have or just weren’t paying attention to reality.
Each month you work hard to earn your paycheck. You set aside time to pay your bills and maybe even use some sort of app to track what money you have left for the month. The remaining funds left between now and the time you get your next paycheck will pay for things like entertainment or some new clothes, maybe you’re wanting to buy something special for a spouse or your children that you’ve been saving up for. These additional funds are your play money that you’ve budgeted for in order to enjoy life. The dollars that are spent on the necessities are just that, necessary to live your life. You pay your car payment, mortgage or rent, electrical and or utility bills and buy some groceries. These necessary items keep you going every day and everything else is the difference between how much money you spend on enjoying life.
While each of us spend our money in different places there is one consistency among us. The consistency revolves around the fact that we can not spend more than we have. If we earn $1,000 every two weeks then that is the maximum we can spend for that time frame. Spending even a penny more than the deposited amount will result in credit penalties and the inability to use funds in an emergency situation. If we have $0 in our bank account then what will happen when we get sick and have to make a co-payment? If we’ve spent too much money on entertainment then what will happen when our vehicle breaks down and we need cash to fix it?
The funds in our bank account is the barometer for how much fun we can have. We are only allowed to invest a certain amount of money into our lives based on what we’ve earned. The maximum amount of fun and entertainment and lavish lifestyle we can have is predicated on what gets deposited every two weeks. Anything above and beyond will result in a penalty or as some would say a reckless financial lifestyle. Our bank and our earnings give us the guidelines to live.
What would happen if your company failed to make their payroll on time and the $1,000 that you were anticipating at the start of the month didn’t show up? You have bills to pay and you are planning to book a vacation with that money, but the company made a mistake or simply didn’t manage their expenses properly and the money is late or just not going to arrive. The trickle down effect of the deposit not taking place will have a cause and effect with their employees. Would you still show up to work the next day knowing that they may not be able to make another payroll? How hard would you work knowing that the company is failing to make the deposit in you financially? Let’s take it another route; how hard would you work if the company gave you a surprise bonus at the end of the year that you weren’t anticipating? If your boss pulls you aside one day and says “thank you for all your hard work, we’re giving you a raise.” How hard to you work then? The assumption is that you would be extra motivated as this deposit was unexpected and appreciated.
When leading teams of people, assume that every interaction is an opportunity to make a deposit in someone. Every one-on-one meeting or coaching and feedback session gives you a platform to deposit a coin of growth capital into someone. There are multiple opportunities to make a deposit into your employees including calls, text interaction, email replies, the way you handle conflicts, the way you coach to issues amongst team members, the way you look out for someone’s growth and the way that you ultimately comfort someone in a time of need. Making a deposit into an employee growth plan is as simple as telling someone they are doing an awesome job when they least expect it or as complex as working through a tough review in which the employee understands their blind spots and they commit to improvement.
What happens if we fail to make these deposits? Perhaps we cancel a few one-on-one meetings or we don’t tell someone how important their work for multiple weeks if not months. How long do we anticipate that employee will give their all without finally giving up and seeking a company or a leader who will make the necessary deposits? If our company fails to make the deposit on time we won’t continue to work there so why would we stay around assuming our leader fails to make deposits on time too? Employees will always seek out leaders who make multiple deposits each week and the best employees will thrive on these deposits being made frequently and on time.
Assuming you still have not made the necessary growth deposits in your team, what will happen when you have to deliver some tough news? Let’s consider a performance plan as the driver. You have an employee who is not pulling their weight or perhaps not hitting the goals that you have set forth. When you sit down and challenge their work habits and deliver the news to them that their job is in jeopardy, how do they handle that? What happens when you have to tell an employee that they need to be on time every day or that you’ve heard from their peers that they are confrontational?
These difficult conversations can be incredibly easy assuming you have made enough growth deposits. If you’ve saved enough of your financial deposits each month and you unexpectedly have to make a payment to the doctor for an unforeseen health emergency then you can handle the expense. If you’ve made enough growth deposits into your employees then both of you can handle an incredibly difficult conversation about growth and development. You can take the necessary withdrawals assuming you’ve deposited enough up front.
Your checking account tells you how much money you can take out and the time and energy you put into your teams every week tell you how much you can push them to achieve greatness. It tells you how hard that you can push, the things you can and can not say and it gives you the ability to handle incredibly difficult conversations. If you find yourself in a place where you struggle to give feedback to someone then ask yourself how much growth capital you’ve deposited. Have you taken the time to conduct the one-on-ones and give them the time and attention they deserve? Have you surprised them with feedback to grow and have you given them the courage and confidence to keep going when the work gets tough?
The rule is simple, as a leader, you can’t take more withdrawals than you’ve made deposits. Each deposit is a credit to handle difficult conversations, ask someone to work harder, or push them above and beyond what they ever anticipated doing. If you take too many withdrawals before making enough deposits you will lose your employees to leaders who wish to invest wisely in their human capital.
by Scott Bond