For many business leaders, the shareholders have to be the most important stakeholders; some consider the customers as the king while a very few consider employees as their most important stakeholders. In most corporate management decisions, employees’ interests usually come after the interest of the shareholders and the customers have been duly resolved since the employees have less apparent effect on the cashflow compared to the investors or shareholders and the customers.
However, experience has shown that when you see your human resource as your most important asset and an integral part of your business, your propensity to invest in your people improves and it geometrically influences the growth of your business.
Studies of organizations that have had to suffer severe losses or have been damaged beyond repair reveal strong, critical missteps in human resource management, especially with regards to employee remuneration, training and development as highly consequential.
It is not totally untrue the argument most employers invariably put forward that loyalty is a very scarce currency to come by among employees these days. However, it is important to note that loyalty is not a one-way street in employer-employee relation; rather it is an exchange of reciprocity.
Some strategic leaders or business owners are too greedy; they simply want to have all the largesse to themselves. Some exhibit excessive paranoia and insecurity such that they inadvertently or even deliberately stifle all the opportunities that could generally impact the growth and improvement in the quality of lives of their employees. There have been many instances where workers get far below the industry minimum without additional perks that should come with their jobs including training opportunities, yet these employees are expected to conjure a rabbit from a hat or create a mountain out of molehill.
Placing the goal of the business over the needs of the people that are expected to drive the achievement of the goal is an irrational decision or illogical position to take. It is much like putting the Cart before the horse. Towing this line of thought in management does not only affect employee motivation and efficiency, it leads to the spread of scarcity mentality in the organization. Frankly, nothing kills a business faster than the proliferation of need and scarcity mentality in your people. It spreads corruption, leakages and shrinkages like wildfire across all the firmaments of your system.
A recent conversation I had with my neighbour, Engineer Mike, raised an insight into the psychology of a troubled entrepreneur. Mike is a Ghanian by birth. But he naturalized in Nigeria having lived and tried several businesses in the country for over two decades.
45-year-old Mike often recalls his heydays when he led the market activation and sales of a leading cable TV from his home country across different parts of Nigeria. Those days he handled humongous budgets, had volumes flow into his multiple accounts and over Seventy people were under his payroll.
For five years, Mike is still trying to recover from the worst shock he’s experienced dealing with people in business. According to him, in addition to the trouble of securing a license to scale your business in a foreign country and the unhealthy rivalry in the corporate food chain, issues of employee disloyalty could surely be deadly as hell.
Some of his employees started from selling his original products and replacing the stock with inferior articles and later evolved to redirecting his customers to a secret venture they set up while the customers were made to believe they are still buying from the same seller.
Mike strongly believes paying high salaries and giving lavish benefits to employees makes them grow lazy and overly entitled. However, this is where I often disagree with him. Mike’s story no doubt inspires sympathy. However, his philosophy of people’s management made me reassess my thoughts about the condition and motivation of his supposedly disloyal erstwhile employees.
It is true that human nature is unpredictable yet loyalty remains a dimension of human nature. Someone says, when you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business. It can be equally said when you decide to not take care of your employees, your business will be the least of their worries.