The Sachs Report: Your values are yours, and my values are mine.
July 1, 2013
Listening to the radio while driving home recently, I heard a news report about employee engagement, attributed to a recently concluded work-study survey. I am sorry I do not know the name of this study, or the outfit that provided the report. Now remember, I was driving and focused on driving, while enjoying a double/double and milkshake. But mostly, I was focused on driving.
What I do remember were what I found to be some extraordinary findings from this study. First we are told that 60% of men are not engaged in the vision, goals and values of the companies where they work. Further, some 35% of those men work at sabotaging those same goals and values. And the study found as well, that women are more engaged in the goals and values of the company where they work. While not knowing the methodology, even if the report was cut in half, it is still astonishing to see these results.
I have worked in both environments where understanding a company’s values were part of the culture, and elsewhere where values were not even considered. The companies that held that values were to be part of the corporate fabric are generally longer lasting operations. They spend hours in discussion with employees to build out those goals and values. At the same time, looking to get both input and buy-in are leading considerations to their programs. At companies that did not express corporate goals, values or any vision, as you can imagine, little time and effort were spent on this culture.
Now, this study shows very little respect is given to corporate values and goals. One has to ask the question, why and what is then the value of any business doing all this work? Why would any business work on getting everyone on the same page or getting all the arrows moving in same direction?
I have a couple of thoughts as to why this may be happening. First I believe this disinterest in values, has to do more with the current economic climate of the country. With all of the downsizing that has taken place over the past 5 years, and employers asking more of employees to manage the productivity of two or more employees, there can be little doubt that employees in general are losing respect and respect for their employers. From my perspective it has more to do with the fear of being laid off rather than any lack of value, vision and values to the employee.
We have recently seen data that show 76% of families in the country are living paycheck to paycheck. This perhaps may further inflate a growing distrust between employee and employer. Too often employees have heard how central people are to the corporation success. The company meanwhile is letting people go, or not hiring into needed areas of the company. An incongruity of “people are our most important asset,” that is often professed by management.
There may currently be no argument against these practices of reengineering and staffing considerations. Considering the conditions companies are faced with today. The least of which may be an uncertainty of government interference in their businesses by either legislation or regulation.
None of this should impede a corporation’s North Star. Unfortunately we find it does. Customers and consumers alike will most certainly recognize companies that hold close to their corporate values and vision. It may be even more important, as we consider this recent report, for companies to manage through an exercise of working alongside employees to practice the values of the company and understand the vision of its leaders. Understand that this is not done by a corporate decree, but rather a slow building corporate culture.
What is most troubling is the survey showing the percentage of employees who are willing to sabotage the values a company is hoping to project. Let’s take the double/double mentioned earlier. How long would In & Out be the favorite of so many, if employees were not living the culture of the burger company? Product is certainly important, but knowing that as a consumer you are receiving the best of what a company is putting forward is just as, if not more, important. There are many great cheeseburgers in the market today. It is to their credit, that this company presents itself to the consumer the same in store after store.
We all remember the video of a drive thru customer at Chic Filet waiting in line for over an hour to confront a fast food chain employee. We all remember the employee at that window handle herself magnificently against this outrage. I submit, the performance of this employee was not an accident, but a result of both professional hiring practices, and the culture of customer service and respect this company holds close in their vision and values. How many new customers did this incident deliver? How many customers could have been lost, if the employee had acted differently?
How is your company performing today? Are the majority of employees living the values and vision of the enterprise? Or do you work with employees that are only drawing a paycheck and could care less about all that corporate value stuff? As an executive, do you believe you are walking the walk of your corporation’s values? Or do you say one thing while doing another? Do you believe your employees trust you? Be careful here as it may be entirely different from you hear them tell you directly.
Take some time to score the next few interactions you have with other companies. Was the experience very positive or rather negative? Was the experience engaging or off-putting? Can you imagine the same thing happening in your company? How do you get back your employee’s trust? How do you begin to build a culture of value and your vision? It begins with you first trusting your employees while building a culture of communication and respect.
Taking the time and commitment to incorporate values and vision with your employees, will only help to build your brand and ultimately more revenue.