A Les­son in Car­ing

Trillions - - Table Of Contents - By Dr. Chance Ea­ton

The value of car­ing in busi­ness

I was not the typ­i­cal farm and ranch kid to say the least. While the next gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers and ranch­ers were dream­ing of the day they would take over their par­ents’ role as agri­cul­ture man­agers, I was fo­cused on the in­tra and in­ter­per­sonal hu­man dy­nam­ics, the na­ture-hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, and the ex­is­ten­tial frame­works of free­dom, re­spon­si­bil­ity, mean­ing, and death. As a 5th gen­er­a­tion farmer with a home­steading his­tory back to the early 1900s, I just as­sumed that one day I would prob­a­bly fall in the foot­steps of my fa­ther and his fa­ther be­fore him. So I at­tended fi­nance and agri-busi­ness school­ing, in­clud­ing an MBA, so that I could con­trib­ute to the fam­ily’s long and rich her­itage.

I was stuck be­tween two worlds; one that was learn­ing how to con­trib­ute to the next gen­er­a­tion of farm­ing and ranch­ing, and one that was con­tem­plat­ing psy­chol­ogy and phi­los­o­phy. This con­tra­dic­tion came to a head on my 26th birth­day, when I de­cided to leave and ex­plore my­self and my world. I went on to travel the globe, study and work in the fields of psy­chol­ogy, ed­u­ca­tion, and or­ga­ni­za­tional devel­op­ment. To­day when I re­flect back on my up­bring­ing as a farmer and rancher, com­bined with my pro­fes­sional work ex­pe­ri­ence in the field of or­ga­ni­za­tional psy­chol­ogy, I am blessed to dis­cover a con­ver­gence of my two worlds. That union is sim­ply care.

The story of the farmer and rancher is one that cares about their his­tory of how they came out west and set­tled on noth­ing but raw land and a dream. Their story is one that cares for their land as the orig­i­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist that tends to the land so that it can be boun­ti­ful for cur­rent and fu­ture years crops and graz­ing. Their story is one that cares about build­ing char­ac­ter; in­clud­ing hon­esty, re­spon­si­bil­ity, ini­tia­tive, ac­count­abil­ity, and in­tegrity. Their story is one that cares about their fu­ture and build­ing an in­fra­struc­ture that will sup­port fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of farm­ers and ranch­ers.

As I re­flect on my for­tu­nate up­bring­ing, what fas­ci­nates me is that this no­tion of care is also what makes all great com­pa­nies great – they fun­da­men­tally care about what they do and how they do it. A great place to

see how care trans­lates into to­day’s com­pany cul­ture is by look­ing at the con­struct of work en­gage­ment. By def­i­ni­tion, work en­gage­ment is de­fined as “a pos­i­tive, ful­fill­ing, work-re­lated state of mind that is char­ac­ter­ized by vigor, ded­i­ca­tion, and ab­sorp­tion” (Schaufeli, Salanova, Gon­za­lez-roma, & Baker, 2002, p. 74). En­gage­ment is about bring­ing the best of your­self to the sit­u­a­tion ev­ery day phys­i­cally, emo­tion­ally, and men­tally. For per­spec­tive, think of en­gage­ment as the po­lar op­po­site of burn-out. The burned out em­ployee is one that is phys­i­cally exhausted, cyn­i­cal, and out of fo­cus. When re­search firm Gallup sur­vey­ing over 2,500 busi­ness units (Harter, Sch­midt, & Hayes, 2002), they found that em­ployee en­gage­ment cor­re­lated at a sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant level to im­por­tant or­ga­ni­za­tions met­rics, in­clud­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity, prof­itabil­ity, em­ployee re­ten­tion, and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. Fur­ther, Gallup (2012) notes that over 70% of the coun­try’s em­ploy­ees are dis­en­gaged from work, and cost­ing the U.S. econ­omy an es­ti­mated $450 bil­lion to $550 bil­lion an­nu­ally. Of the most en­gaged or­ga­ni­za­tions, Gallup found that they gen­er­ate the most in­no­va­tive ideas, cre­ate the most of new cus­tomers, and have the most en­tre­pre­neur­ial en­ergy. The en­gaged em­ployee goes the ex­tra mile due to their strong emo­tional con­nec­tion to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

When Gallup broke down their data into un­der­ly­ing fac­tors, they found that com­mon work be­hav­iors in­clud­ing: (a) hir­ing for fit, (b) man­ag­ing for ex­pec­ta­tions, (c) pro­vid­ing per­for­mance feed­back, (d) hold­ing team mem­bers ac­count­able for per­for­mance, and (e) hav­ing the right re­sources to get the job done cor­rectly. In sum­mary, these be­hav­iors demon­strate care for work per­for­mance and out­comes.

In my opin­ion, what is even more in­ter­est­ing is that their re­search also in­di­cated that care at the hu­man level con­trib­uted to the im­por­tant busi­ness met­rics of prof­itabil­ity, pro­duc­tiv­ity, cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, safety, and re­ten­tion. These fac­tors in­cluded (a) pro­vid­ing recog­ni­tion or praise for good work, (b) al­low­ing and pro­mot­ing for per­sonal re­la­tion­ships to flour­ish in the work place, (c) lis­ten­ing and valu­ing the opin­ions of team mem­bers, (d) coach­ing and en­cour­ag­ing em­ployee’s devel­op­ment around strength ar­eas, (e) feel­ing cared for as a per­son, and (f) feel­ing a sense of mis­sion and pur­pose to their work.

Great com­pa­nies are great be­cause they care not only about what they do and how they do it; they care for and ap­pre­ci­ate how the peo­ple con­trib­ute to their ser­vice, their fu­ture, and their cause. This sounds a lot like what I wit­nessed in the story of the farmer and rancher. Though they didn’t rely on uti­liz­ing the lat­est in en­gage­ment re­search, they in­nately prac­ticed these same be­hav­iors of at­ti­tudes of car­ing for their busi­ness, car­ing for their pur­pose, and car­ing for their loved ones in this gen­er­a­tion and the next. They learned this from their fa­thers and their fa­thers be­fore them, not from the lat­est re­search on build­ing pro­duc­tive and en­gaged team.

Care is what makes com­pa­nies great. If you (a) don’t care for what you do and how you do it, (b) you don’t care for the peo­ple that give their blood, sweat, and tears to the cause, and (c) and don’t demon­strate char­ac­ter in who you are and what you stand for, you are stand­ing on weak foun­da­tions that won’t last through the chal­lenges that life brings us.

So the next time you are vis­it­ing your com­pany cul­ture, and work­ing to un­der­stand what it takes for your busi­ness to thrive, take a chap­ter from the orig­i­nal car­ing pro­fes­sional, the Amer­i­can farmer and rancher.

Dr. Chance Ea­ton has over a decade’s worth of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in the field of Ed­u­ca­tion & Or­ga­ni­za­tional Devel­op­ment. Due to his unique ed­u­ca­tional and work ex­pe­ri­ences in fi­nance, psy­chol­ogy, lead­er­ship & man­age­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, noetic sci­ences, and agri­cul­ture, Dr. Ea­ton pro­vides his clients with rel­e­vant busi­ness so­lu­tions grounded in the­ory and re­search. To learn more about Dr. Ea­ton’s ser­vices, please visit www.hrso­lu­tion­sin­ter­na­tional.com.

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