Qual­ity Busi­ness: Earn Trust

Luxe Beat Magazine - - Contents - Busi­ness By Tom Raf­fio

Dur­ing my more than thirty-five years in busi­ness, I have learned, through ex­pe­ri­ence and bench­mark­ing best prac­tice com­pa­nies, what it takes to run not only a busi­ness, but a suc­cess­ful one. What fol­lows is the sixth ar­ti­cle in a se­ries of twelve that will po­si­tion any busi­ness for suc­cess.

In my last col­umn I dis­cussed the im­por­tance of earn­ing the trust of your em­ployee col­leagues, your busi­ness col­leagues and your cus­tomers. While earn­ing trust, it is im­por­tant to learn how to play as a team and put the goals of the team be­fore your per­sonal ego. Brag­ging and show­ing off are not at­trac­tive qual­i­ties and this isn’t what your col­leagues, clients, and ex­ter­nal busi­ness col­leagues want to see. Cus­tomers don’t want one strong player to out­shine the rest, they want the en­tire team to play to­gether and de­light them.

If you have one em­ployee whose goal is to out­shine his or her col­leagues, this can cre­ate im­bal­ance within the team and “sink your ship.” Want­ing to climb to the top of an or­ga­ni­za­tion is nor­mal, but those who want to ad­vance in a com­pany should learn that it’s bet­ter to make sure the team shines than to gloat about your per­sonal con­tri­bu­tions to any given project or suc­cess. A great ex­am­ple of team­work is many Ja­panese car com­pa­nies who now have one team build an en­tire car in­stead of each em­ployee work­ing on a mun­dane task. This helps employees feel em­pow­ered and have a sense of own­er­ship in the com­pany’s suc­cess be­cause they all work to­gether, learn new skills and see the project through as a team. As with build­ing an en­tire car, when employees work to­gether as a team they be­gin to know the busi­ness.

Em­ployee em­pow­er­ment is ad­dressed by The­ory Y man­age­ment style as op­posed to The­ory X man­age­ment style. The­ory X as­sumes that only up­per man­age­ment knows what is best for the com­pany and that employees know lit­tle. The The­ory Y man­age­ment style prac­tices that front-line employees are in the best pos­si­ble po­si­tion to understand their jobs and do what is best for cus­tomers. There are times when The­ory X might be more ap­pro­pri­ate than The­ory Y and vice-versa -- it de­pends on the com­pany’s pri­or­i­ties and cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. For ex­am­ple, in an emer­gency or cri­sis which re­quires im­me­di­ate ac­tion, The­ory X could be ap­pro­pri­ate.

No mat­ter what your man­age­ment style is, there will be the oc­ca­sional er­ror. In­stead of point­ing fin­gers at employees for the mis­take, I sug­gest cel­e­brat­ing it as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It is, af­ter all, man­age­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide employees with the train­ing they need to do their jobs ef­fec­tively. While em­pow­er­ing employees is only one com­po­nent of what makes a strong team, it is also im­por­tant to in­volve employees in de­vel­op­ing so­lu­tions to prob­lems. Your employees know their jobs best be­cause they are on the front-line. Of course, they should keep man­age­ment in the loop but they will ap­pre­ci­ate this “hands off” ap­proach and the team will shine.

In clos­ing, one of my most prized lead­er­ship books is Max Depree’s Lead­er­ship is an Art, which ex­plains that team­work and your employees are the most valu­able as­sets to your com­pany. This is of­ten called ser­vant lead­er­ship, which ac­cord­ing to Ge­orge Cle­ments, Chair­man of Jewel Tea Com­pany, is “work for those who work for you” and “Ninety per­cent of a leader’s time should be do­ing ev­ery­thing you can to help your direct re­ports suc­ceed. You should be the first as­sis­tant to the peo­ple who work for you.” I fol­low th­ese prin­ci­ples of ser­vant lead­er­ship that were first doc­u­mented and de­vised by Robert Green­leaf in 1970 and sum­ma­rized by Spears in 1998: em­pa­thy; per­sonal well-be­ing; aware­ness; per­sua­sion; con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion; fore­sight; stew­ard­ship; com­mit­ment to the growth of peo­ple; and build­ing com­mu­nity.

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