Part 1 in our 3-part series asking the question:
In this age of full employment are you at risk of losing “your most valuable asset”?

Click Here for Part 2 | Click Here for Part 3

Recent Gallup studies reveal that 71 percent of American workers are either not engaged in their jobs – or have become actively disengaged.

Winning the hearts & minds of your team begins with winning their hearts according to recent scientific discoveries. These studies show that the greatest driver of team member engagement worldwide is whether or not people feel their managers and organizations have genuine concern for their well being.

Beware if you use the phrase “It’s not personal, it’s just business”.

This sentiment is the exact opposite of what drives genuine team member engagement in a truly successful businesses. The phrase was coined by Otto Berman, an accountant for the mob in the 1930s, as a way of separating himself from the human impact of the mob’s operations. Don’t use it to separate yourself from the impact of your business decisions!

“It’s not personal, it’s just business” reminds me of a client I briefly had some years ago who had in their main hallway into the plant a faded poster that read “People are our most important asset”!

This business was in a curious position, they could sell every bit of product they could produce but were in bankruptcy due to legacy issues from the company they were spun off from. Touring the plant it was clear there were opportunities abound to improve throughput. The team seemed engaged and motivated.  This gig had all the trappings of a potential huge win.

Our first Kaizen event solved some maintenance issues at their constraint which dramatically reduced material losses and resulted in significantly more finished product out the door. It was a big win for them! The members of the team were beaming with pride! Their controller’s estimate of impact was $3M per year. Not bad for a week’s work.

The second Kaizen event was another success. Another constraint busted with an estimated $5M per year to the bottom line – and we were just getting started.

The third event never happened. When we arrived you could sense the tension in the air – something was clearly not right. The week before this company had taken 300 of its “most important assets”, fired them and rehired them through another company for $10/hr lower wages and no benefits. Nothing personal, it’s just business. Turnover skyrocketed to over 60% per WEEK. The place was a shambles. We fired our client and drove back home.

What if… What could have been…

In just two weeks of work less than 20 of these team members had generated the equivalent of $10/hr for 400 team members per year. And they had barely scratched the surface of what was possible.

In one act of not caring, leadership at this business forever turned off the goodwill of their teams, “their most important assets”, and created a war zone that neither side will ever win.

So what is the alternative to treating team members as objects? How about treating them like people!

The Formula for Success

BE x DO = HAVE

Going back to the Formulas for Success (above), to HAVE engaged team members that apply discretionary effort to their work (i.e. give more than the minimum required) and thus help your business grow and thrive, not to merely survive, you are going to have to work on your leadership team’s BE-ing.

“The greatest driver of team engagement worldwide is whether or not people feel their managers and organizations have genuine concern for their well being.”

What does it mean to have “genuine concern” for your team members’ well being? How will your business demonstrate this every day to every person on your team? How will you as leaders demonstrate this every day with each other and with your subordinates?

Of course it’s personal, it’s business!

Business is nothing if not about people, and people are emotional beings.

We know this is true with our customers.

Recognize that it is equally true with your teams and you will create an amazing business where people love to come to work … and you will smoke your competitors.


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