The leaders of these businesses value every person and every job. They lead with humility, understanding that they can have a profitable, successful business while treating employees well. Some even share ownership with employees through ESOPs or broad-based stock options. One CEO of a metal forming company we spoke with recently could not imagine running a company any other way. “The people who work here are my posse,” he said. “They have my back and I have theirs.”
There are blue collar employees who understand the workings of business so well that they are in great demand to serve on the boards of directors of local nonprofits. The employees at these model companies are motivated to learn a multitude of skills so that they can create products and supply services quickly, efficiently, and in a way that delights customers. They know that if they do their jobs well, they will earn a significant bonus check for their families. And they work as well-oiled teams, supporting each other and making improvements in processes and procedures as needed and with the full support of management.
Many of these companies have clear core values that they created together as a team and that serve as a shared language and structure in which to operate. One company went from a traditional “command and control” setup to a much more employee-driven structure. The CEO says his job is much easier and more fun now. Most of these firms have “no blame” problem-solving structures as well. They know that setting up these types of disciplines is worth the time and effort.
Best of all, nobody is doing this just to be nice – it is a huge benefit to the bottom line. Fully engaging and tapping the ingenuity of every single person is the best proprietary advantage. These model companies inspire us, and we want to help many other businesses share the inspiration and find ways to adapt these practices to increase their alignment and bottom line success.
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