Stop asking us to think like business owners!
This is the feedback we receive from so many of the teams we work with. And, I think, this is one of the biggest mistakes that business owners make – expecting employees to think about business problems as if their houses ride on the outcome. The thing is – their houses don’t ride on it. They have elected to be employees – to turn up for their regular hours, to do their assigned tasks and to go home.
Now that’s not to say that employees don’t care – they very much do when they are engaged. However, they don’t care about the business as if it was theirs because – guess what? – it isn’t. The challenges, rewards and trade-offs of business ownership are completely outside of their scope of reference. Subsequently, expectations centred around trying to get employees to think like business owners are fruitless and pointless.
Part of the work we do with employees is around finding what does motivate them to ‘go above and beyond’ – and it is invariably purpose. Conversations need to be openly occurring in workplaces around joint purpose, shared values and united vision in order to gain access to that illusive discretionary effort.
When an employee is 100% clear on their purpose, and believes the organization that employs them to share similar values and a desire to create similar meaning, they are engaged, more creative and generally happier.
Why does it matter whether an employee is happy I hear you ask? Two main reasons.
Imagine the human workplace – where staff are seen as individuals that form a meaningful part of a cohesive team. Where individual contribution is recognized and group achievement celebrated. Where individual as well as collective wellbeing is treasured. Where social connection at work is fostered and actively sought. THIS environment, we believe, is highly productive and creates highly dynamic businesses that can adapt quickly to change.Happy staff are just better for business.
Happy staff will service your customers better, do more for the business, think laterally and more clearly, be more productive, lodge less complaints, and recommend your business to others. It just makes sense.
So, if I can ask one thing of business owners out there? Please, please, please stop asking your employees to think like business owners. If you’re really unlucky they will take up the challenge, and go start a business that does what yours does better. Or, you’ll alienate your staff and have a completely unproductive workforce. Either way, it serves no one, least of all the business.