I recently did a business presentation to a senior manager and I could tell from his facial expression that I am getting the deal. The he dropped the bombshell, “What’s in it for me?”
I was caught unawares. I was only prepared to present what’s in it for his company.
As I reflected on those words, I recalled the question that Peter asked his master, Jesus Christ, as the latter talked about the herculean task of inheriting the kingdom of heaven, which apparently the former hoped to sail into smoothly.
He said, “We have left everything to follow you!” Jesus quickly assured them, “… and I assure you that anyone who leaves his home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will receive much more in this present age, and eternal life in the age to come.”
Peter’s question is very important as it exposes the nature of human beings. It is a question that every leader, whether in business, politics, family or community, must answer in order to get full support from their followers.
It should not be looked at from the perspective of soliciting favours or bribes for doing what one should rightly do. It is about meeting the needs of all parties concerned in a win-win situation.
Most business leaders have been misled to believe that customer is king and that employees are a necessary evil. They value the customers more than the employee simply because customers bring in money and employees take out money.
Employees are as important as customers, if not more. If you want quality and happy customers, get quality and happy employees and treat them better than customers.
The renowned British serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson, said, “By putting the employee first, the customer effectively comes first by default, and in the end, the shareholder comes first by default as well.”
Employees too need to know what’s in it for them. You cannot talk of great success and the great vision you have for your company and expect cooperation from employee unless you tell them what they will get in return for sacrificing their family, time and sometimes health for the sake of your kingdom.
When starting a business or trying to turn around an ailing enterprise, the first step is to find ways of engaging and making your employees happy and hopeful. Once your employees are happy and have their present and future assured, they will have a strong reason for coming to work every day and giving their best, and customers will be happier by default.
The first step in making your employees happy is to build a conducive business environment where every employee feels valued and secure. Create a team that every employee feels part of.
Invest in training for professional and personal development that guarantees your employees a bright future, whether they are in or out of your enterprise. Once you have done this, give them the right tools and you will be surprised by their productivity.
This article was first published in The Business Daily on November 5, 2019.