There are only four people in your business.
Regardless of the type of business that you have, your business only contains four people.
That’s right – only four.
Well, it really contains only four TYPES of people:
Leaders, Employees, Customers and Community.
To be successful, a business has to engage each of these four types of people.
The Leadership needs to be engaged with the purpose of the business, to make the critical decisions that take the business forward in a thoughtful and purposeful way. Leaders who are engaged with WHY the business exists make purposeful decisions that drive the organisation to be better. Leaders that are disengaged from the bigger purpose will make short term and self-centred decisions, which often leads the organisation into problems (even crisis).
The employees need to be engaged to drive high performance. The literature is clear that an engaged workforce increases performance above and below the line (see video here). Engaged workforces are innovative and are far more likely to adapt to changes and continue to drive performance even in increased uncertainty. Disengaged workforces often can engage in counterproductive behaviours, such as sabotage, gossip, theft, risk taking and decreased compliance.
Customers need to be engaged so that the organisation can demonstrate the value of what we offer to them, and to have them communicate back to the organisation so it can learn and develop in line with the customer needs. Customers who are disengaged are not really customers. Until we truly engage them, they may transact with us (like stopping at a convenience store for some milk), but they will not truly identify with the company or what it offers. At the positive extreme, customers who are deeply engaged assume a measure of ownership in our success, and can act as real sources of value and insight for the organisation.
The community needs to be engaged, because it is through the community that the organisation has its social license to operate. An organisation needs to fit within the norms and values of the society, so that they are seen as fitting into, and serving, the greater good. Organisations that fail to engage their communities will run into crisis when things go wrong, and will often drive regulatory or governance responses to ‘pull them back into line’. For some organisations, the community is the source of their funding so by not engaging their communities, they drastically impact upon their revenues. This is so important for Not for Profit organisations and charities where the government grants and charitable donations are critical sources of funds. By having the communities fully engaged, it leads to greater access to funds to support their organisations.
As you think about the organisation that you work for, how do you work to develop your relationship with, and more deeply engage these four ‘people’?
Many organisations set themselves up for trouble by missing one of these groups:
- The company that focuses so deeply on the customer but not on the employee (at the moment, consider the potential ‘Christmas Strike’ that may affect Amazon Germany – http://tinyurl.com/ml8okhm).
- The company that focuses on Leadership at the expense of everyone else (Enron was a classic example of a leadership that lost its way, and was not engaged in what it should have been doing!)
- The lack of engagement with community leading to government intervention and regulatory responses (BP and the oil spill in the Gulf).
In the end, who you choose to engage with, and how you decide to serve them, can have a massive impact on your business. It is a strategic choice – being thoughtful about how you will engage with each of these four ‘people’ will be a critical part of creating a sustainable, high performance organisation that will drive profitable growth and benefit all of its constituent people. It both creates and allows you to leverage the opportunities, but also to ameliorate the potential risks.
By taking a bigger view and understanding that your business is made up of these four ‘people’ allows you to determine how you can increase opportunities and decrease risks – to drive a sustainable culture of high performance and profitable success.
Where is your focus? Are there any of these four groups that are not on your strategic radar? What can you do to enhance true engagement in each of these groups?