As an employee for nearly 20 years across both sides of the pond and now as a business owner for the past 13 years, having served clients in 28 states, China, India, Western Europe and Australia, I was recently reflecting back on what I’ve learned. Rather like the hit parade, here’s my Top 10:
1. Trust is the glue that bonds people together — we trust people who have high character (who they are) and high competence (what they do). The commodity leaders deal in is trust — people will follow you, if they trust you.
2. All organizations are essentially volunteer organizations — people will choose how much to give of themselves based on how much they trust their colleagues and leaders.
3. There are two types of time-management challenges — people and process. The goal with people is to build trust and the goal with processes is to reduce time. When we have effective relationships with people and efficient processes, we have fewer time-management challenges.
4. Gossip breaks trust — it’s like a poisonous toxin that permeates some organizations. Construction workers know all about this principle as they call it “bad mud.” You think you’re building a bond with someone when you gossip about others but the other person knows you’re not to be trusted. Innately, they know if you gossip about others, you’d gossip about them.
5. Employees learn best by three things — example, example and example. If you are the leader be a good example for others to follow. If you want your team to be solution-minded; on time; customer-centered and hard-working you have to exhibit these attributes yourself.
6. Human beings are four-dimensional — the body, the mind, the heart and the soul. Great leaders create cultures that get people firing on all four cylinders. They ensure the physical dimension of the person is well cared for by paying well and create working conditions that are healthy. Great leaders seek the opinions of others, (the mind) and they encourage people to be passionate about their work, (the heart). Great organizations attract and retain talent by also doing work that matters and that makes a positive contribution to the world (which you could say is the soul, in the workplace).
7. Human beings are not robots — we weren’t designed to work 24/7, 365. If we try and be superhuman, something will break. For people to be effective during the working week, they also need to rest, refresh and replenish. It seems we were designed to work some, rest some and play some.
8. Diversity and inclusion policies can actually cause division and more exclusion, if not managed well. The trumpet of diversity can sound very off-key if someone deep down believes the primary reason they got the job was because they helped fill some kind of quota based on their race, age, gender or sexual orientation. The thrust of inclusivity can actually be an oxymoron if we exclude the views of people who disagree with an agenda to push life choices not everyone agrees with or morally believes they can applaud.
9. Business is no more complicated than people working with people (called colleagues) and other people (called vendors) to serve other people (called customers). Money is just the fruit that falls from the tree when we work well with people in our service to others.
10. Change is the only constant. Technology is the primary driver that dictates that the way we did it yesterday is not necessarily the best way to do it today and all bets may be off tomorrow. Technology is not a terrorizer we should fear but an enabler to do what we need to do, better and smarter.
Oh, and here’s a bonus one — I have never, like never, like ever, worked for or consulted with an organization that’s heavily unionized and came away thinking, “Wow, what an incredibly awesome work culture!” Like never. My observation has been that unions had their place primarily back in the days when we needed to put safety harnesses on capitalists who had little care for the lives of human beings at work. Nowadays, my observation has been that unions do little more than cause division and suspicion.
There you have it, 11 things I’ve learned over 33 years of working in this sometimes wacky and sometimes wonderful world of commerce.
Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaf-ca.com). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].