Friday, April 10, 2015

Are you fully invested in your company?

No, this is not a post about money or retirement. It's a post about your life. Are you fully invested in your work?

As I write this, it's Friday afternoon. I can't count the number of times I've overheard people rejoice about it being Friday. Why? One would assume it's because they don't enjoy their work or their co-workers. I can understand, I've been in that situation before. It's a horrible existence to show up, punch the clock, and do your time. That sounds more like prison than a career.

I had lunch with someone today that asked me, "What is your ideal job"? I had to put some thought into it. I didn't  just think about the money, but about what the mission of the company is and how they treat their employees. I've worked in several places, and the best places to work were the places that fully utilized their staff's skills regardless of their job title. It was a true team environment where everyone helped each other and moved toward a common goal. In other words, they were fully invested in the company. They cared about each other and accomplishing the business objectives set forth by the executive leadership. They held each other accountable.

Being a detail oriented person, I decided to quickly note a few things that I believe make the perfect job:

1) A company that cares about it's customers and employees more than money
Yes, the goal of any company is to make a profit, but the day you stop worrying about the money is the day you don't have to worry about money anymore. Be prudent with your financial resources, but work hard to be the best at what you do and build strong relationships with your customers. People enjoy doing business with people they like.

2) Company leadership works for their employees, not the other way around
A leader is someone who wants to make their employees successful. I've worked for some fantastic bosses over the years, and a few who taught me what NOT to do. A good manager focuses their team on objectives laid forth by executive leadership and uses the skills and experience of the team to come up with ways to meet those objectives. People want to do good work, but they have to have motivation to do so. A good manager is a motivator, a teacher, a mentor, and above all,  a caring individual. Someone you can depend on. Communication is the key. Always let every person in the organization know why things are being done. Even if they don't agree, always attempt to get buy in from them. Ask them if you can count on their support. Everyone likes to be included and seen as someone important no matter what their role is. Dr. Edwards Deming was quoted as saying, "The emphasis should be on why we do a job". Those who aren't familiar with Dr. Deming's work should Google him. 

3) Be a good corporate citizen
I had the pleasure of heading up the local philanthropic team of a company I worked for. Not only is it excellent PR for a company to work in the community to improve it, it's also very fulling for the employees. I always received a great deal of satisfaction working with  my team to achieve a charitable goal. It builds strong teams when employees can see how much company leadership cares for others.

4) Have an employee development program
People are capable of doing amazing things. I am still amazed at someone who can run an Ironman triathlon. That seems impossible, yet people do it. Many employers hire someone for a position, and fail to take advantage of the many talents and abilities they may have outside of their prescribed duties. Each of us have talents and abilities that can benefit our company above and beyond our position. Being fully invested in your company and willing to use those abilities to make it better is a big part of what makes a great job.

5) Have a servant heart
A business exists to meet the reasonable needs and expectations of its customers. In turn for meeting those needs, the business profits. Pretty simple, right? Not really. If a business is only focused on meeting needs they can solve, they are missing opportunities to help their customer. A good company also seeks to do what's best for their client, even if that means referring them to another company that can better meet their needs. Remember the scene in the Christmas classic "Miracle on 34th Street" when Santa was sending shoppers to other stores?


6) Outside the box thinking
Good companies are always looking for a better way. Continuously improving the way they do things. Not only does this help them maintain a competitive advantage, but it keeps things from becoming dull and fosters an atmosphere of innovation. Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) in a continuous cycle. Always be improving.

This is but a short list of things that make great companies great. I could expand on it, but in the interest of time I will leave it here. If you are a manager, director, executive, or business owner...take the time to get to know your team as people, not as job roles. Becoming fully invested in them will allow them to become fully invested in their work. Instead of "is it Friday yet", you'll be hearing, "wow...Friday already...this week has flown by".