Wednesday, December 29, 2010

People or Raw Material?

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As we approach this new year, there is talk that the economy is slowly rising. The employer market is slowly shifting to an employee market. I'm willing to bet that there are a lot of people out there holding positions at jobs they can't wait to get out of. What do you see when you look at your employees? Are they raw material or are they people?

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As Leaders, the answer to that question is as an important question as we may ever answer. If we see our employees as a means to an end, then how will we interact with them? What have we done to make them feel human? What have we done to let them know that we want them to improve and promote? The fact that they still have a job after many "Down sizing" procedures, is that enough? Are we investing in them as people or as disposable raw material to be utilized? These are just a few questions I have about our top down,corporate cultures. 

  1. What have we done to make them feel human? The re-occurring theme I continue to hear is that most employees do not feel human, they feel more like raw material. They feel like "Leadership" or "Management" however you like to say it, sends the message that if you don't like it here, then leave. There's someone (another supplier) out there that wants your job. But understand this key point, people want to be where they can exercise their potential and be seen as important to the work at hand
  2. What have we done to let them know that we want them to improve or promote? Sure, we have "training" but what are we doing to improve our employees skill sets and making them an attractive option for a promotion? It has been said that a majority of CEO's spend less than 15% of their time on personnel improvement. A number that is very sad to say the least. If our people are our greatest asset, wouldn't it be logical to be spending 2 to 3 times that amount? When people know that Leadership is truly engaged in their overall well being, it's more addictive then any drug. Our people want to know that we care not only about work performance but that we care about their sick kids or ailing parents. Knowing these things can often times answer a many questions about their performance. 
  3. They survived "Down Sizing." A nice way to say that employees doing there jobs where let go. Google has already announced that all of their employees will be getting an 10% pay raise at the beginning of the year. A pay raise is nice, never turned one down myself but what about the lasting, tangible result of mentoring our people that changes them forever? 
  4. Raw material VS People. It's much easier to make decisions based on the view that our workers are just raw material to be used to further our profits. When we start to truly invest our time and energy into our people, helping them discover their strengths and how to build on that. Teaching them how to manage, communicate, improve and be examples of all that we want our business to be, that's when we are truly starting to lead.
I'm talking about Mentor Leaders (Thanks Tony Dungy for the word.) Leaders who don't think about what I can do for them but what we can do to improve ourselves and in-turn improve our company.  I want to work for a Mentor Leader, someone who leads from a servant stand-point. I want to know that it's not about their title or position, it's about getting the right people and empowering them to be rock stars on a level they never thought possible.

Mentoring Leadership + People = Better People, Company & Profits.

"If you want to make a difference in the lives of the people you lead, you must be willing to walk alongside them, to lift and encourage them, to share moments of understanding with them and to spend time with them, not just shout down at them from on high." ~ Tony Dungy
Are you making a difference in the people you lead? Has any ever lead you in a way that made a lasting difference in your life? Please comment, the more we all are involved, the more we will all gain and grow.

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