Too often we hear “our people matter” from senior executives and yet far too often it is those same people that are letting go staff when the economy dips or a decision is made to offshore to save costs. So, is this regard for people just a cheap throwaway line, as in reality they are just another component of delivery, or are organisations missing out on the greatest resource they have at hand?
All staff know the business must be profitable, deliver great service and quality and be competitive and they know jobs are dependent on these things. What a lot of organisations don’t appreciate is the power of their people to influence these things if only they were respected more, listened to more and involved more.
Too often major decisions like offshoring are made at the executive level where a saving of 10% may be the critical factor in moving parts of the business away. And yet if approached with the business imperatives what other initiatives could be implemented through the involvement and participation of staff? We are seeing this in organisations where new labour agreements are reached (hours, shifts and rates), staff taking unpaid leave, new processes accepted and the like where staff fully realise that change is necessary to save both the company profitability and jobs. This acceptance that people matter and should be more involved leads to increased feelings of security, engagement and loyalty all of which goes toward building a culture of high performance.
For this to happen there must be trust and respect on both sides and this needs to be built before such steps are necessary otherwise there will likely be the atmosphere of resentment or ‘being forced into a corner’ rather than being part of the solution.
What we know about people at work is that at the end of the day, they want to matter, to feel significant. They want to be respected, heard, honoured, and supported; they want to win, learn, grow, and do their best. What we need are cultures that recognize this principle, and lead accordingly. Here are some key dimensions of such a culture:
By creating a leadership culture where people feel they matter, everything else the business needs to do will happen—productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, and profitability.