In a recent internal report for Goldman Sachs it was argued that the greatest challenge the company faces over the next 10 to 20 years will be talent: Smart, sophisticated business people who are technologically enlightened and globally astute.
The report goes on to suggest that simply offering higher financial rewards will not be sufficient to attract the highest calibre of personnel. This idea fits in neatly with a new revolution recently suggested by the author Tim Sanders in his book published in 2008 “saving the world at work”. In this book which I would recommend you to read he gives the background and analysis of a new phenomenon called the responsibility revolution in which the social impact that a company has upon its employees, its community, its suppliers, and its clients will be judged just as important as the profit and loss financial statement.
Tim offers many examples to justify his view and the one which struck me as terribly important was the question asked regarding Toyota. Why, when Toyota recently had to make the largest ever recall of vehicles because of a quality issue, did the company not lose any market share? Quality or in this case the lack of it doesn’t seem to have caused Toyota’s consumers to change brand. Think about this question, it really is worth the effort because we might just be on at teh beginning of a dramatic change in how consumers operate.
Whether you agree that a responsibility revolution is upon us or not, whether you believe Goldman Sachs analysis or not, I feel that the motivation for treating your employees, your suppliers and your clients in an ethical and professional manner remains a characteristic that we should all aim towards. And it can be done for practically no extra money…..
Let me list very briefly some of the suggestions that Tim gives in his book which can help you reach a situation where regardless of how many people you come into contact with every one of them will be better off for having known you and your company:
Join a corporate mentor programme
many companies offer at least some form of mentorship program, usually organised within the human resources Department. Simply log on to your corporate intranet click on human resources and you should find the mentorship programmes under training and development.
Mentor a colleague or employee
If your company does not have a mentorship program simply start one yourself. Think as to whether there is someone in your company to whom you can offer professional, technical, financial, leadership or personal advice and all done with empathy and respect. Your role here is to share your knowledge and your skill and not make them feel that they sorely need help. You will need to mentor the person for at least six months checking to see whether your mentee is making progress or not. Remind the mentee that the only payment you wish is that they in the future do the same for another person. And remember today’s mentees are tomorrow’s leaders
Help integrate a new person into the company
Starting at a new company can be a scary experience. Don’t assume that your company has a structured simulation program and take it upon yourself to help this new person integrate themselves within the company. First of all find out what this person does and think as to who within the company that you know would be able to help your mentee. This is also true if your company has taken over another because in these situations the employees of the smaller company can feel lost and nervous about keeping their jobs.
Help colleagues in need
I often say to my clients when I meet a group of them that all they need to be highly successful are the people that are standing around them in exactly this moment. In other words their colleagues. If you can see that some of your colleagues are having difficulties then take it upon yourself to jump in and ask if you can help. Your willingness to offer your help will make a great difference to the relationships within the company.
One of the greatest deficits in the corporate world is the lack of recognition. More than ever people’s self worth is defined in their jobs and if they do not receive from their manager acknowledgement for what they have done their feeling of self-worth is diminished. For this reason the giving of regular feedback particularly positive feedback is so important in the creation of a good working environment. Also why not recognise your employee’s work anniversary making the day like a business birthday. It is a wonderful opportunity to tell people who work for you how much you appreciate them.
Do not invade personal or family time
Studies have proven and I am sure you know this from your own experience that working more than 40 hours a week does not lead to higher productivity. In fact often the opposite. Don’t think that you can encroach upon your employees’ evenings, weekends or holidays. Don’t organise meetings or off-sites during weekends so that they do not interfere with “normal” work. If it is important enough to do, it should be done during normal working hours. The same holds for training and coaching.
The Bottom Line
All these suggestions are easy to initiate at your company. The first four can be done by anyone in the company and the last two by managers or owners. They can make a great difference and cost very little. They will also help to improve the environment in the workplace leading to greater productivity, higher profits and most important of all a feeling of well being, happiness and a sense of belonging.
25th March 2012