As part of a managerial training session at a major corporation where I was once employed, the instructor gave each participant a short quiz of seven to nine questions and asked us how we would answer them as employees of the corporation. The questions covered things like salary expectations, bonuses, employee rewards, etc. We took the quiz and reviewed answers.
Then we took it again. But this time, we were asked to consider our answers from the viewpoint of being a manager. Wow! The answers were complete opposites.
While employees are interested in regular raises, bonuses and appreciation for good work, managers are evaluated on boosting profits, keeping down costs, and managing a workforce that produces optimum results with the least amount of overhead.
Surveys at that same corporation showed that employees would forgo raises if they got an occasional pat on the back. The president’s response was, “Why should I have to give them a pat on the back. They get paychecks. That’s their reward.” He has since retired and new management transformed that company into a powerhouse in their field. It was simple – in addition to a more aggressive reach in the marketplace, they demonstrated more progressive thinking about how to manage and reward people.
As a business owner, I am often reminded of that simple quiz when I’m dealing with both employee and customer issues. I know I have to keep talented, motivated, challenged employees to satisfy the needs of our customers. I also have to find ways to do that in a cost effective manner.
Similarly, I have to keep the perspective of a client, who wants the best quality of work at the least out-of-pocket expense.
Good business is a balancing act between the needs of clients and the needs of employees. A good manager has to put on hats from both sides of the table and see that each feels they are getting value for their dollar or their work.
Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, addresses favorable business relationships. The Quick MBA summarizes his point quite succinctly: “Think Win/Win. Seek agreements and relationships that are mutually beneficial. In cases where a “win/win” deal cannot be achieved, accept the fact that agreeing to make “no deal” may be the best alternative. In developing an organizational culture, be sure to reward win/win behavior among employees and avoid inadvertently rewarding win/lose behavior.”
Taking that management quiz twice so many years ago taught me the lesson of perspective. To be successful in business, we must always be looking at our products and services through the eyes of our customers, who purchase them, and the eyes of our employees, who deliver them.
– Ralph Yearick, CEO, Yearick-Millea