Donnie Smith, former CEO of Tyson, tells the story about trying to make the right decisions for the business, and among pages upon pages of spreadsheets and data, he looks up to the team to say, "Does anyone understand any of this?"
Donnie's story isn't a unique one -- and this post isn't about data -- it's the fact that we often make things far more complicated than they are. The simple truth is this -- Valuing your team is really not that hard.
When we talk about value, and what it means to value an employee, some insights to apply:
1) Showing Value is Costly. You get what you pay for. A few weeks ago, a business owner approached me for help on hiring a great salesperson. Here's the catch -- he said he couldn't afford to pay the average base and would have to offer a much less. Finding (and keeping) great talent is mutually exclusive with the lowest pay. Take it from Ronald McDonald House Charities locally -- they reward double digit % bonuses (as a Non-Profit) to their staff, even to some part-time staff. Pay your people what they deserve -- otherwise you'll fool yourself into thinking a pat on the back is a fair replacement.
2) Showing Value is Selfless. I love the story from Jim Collins' Good to Great where he talks about the difference between the Level 4 and Level 5 leaders. Both are arguably great leaders, but the epitome of the Level 5 leader is the willingness to share the credit and shoulder the blame. When great success and attention arrives in the form of accolades, awards, cover articles in popular journals, and the like, the Level 4 leader speaks in "I". The Level 5 leader speaks in "We". Don't celebrate your people privately. Do it openly, unwaveringly, and unashamedly. It won't cause people to question your ability. It'll cement your ability to lead people towards real results.
3) Showing Value takes Work. There's tremendous ego in business, and the bottom line is that it's easier to put problems on employees than face them ourselves. Take Sonic Drive-In for example. This week, 3 stores' employees quit en masse, citing toxic culture and poor pay. When we look at the fast food industry, Sonic doesn't often rise to the top as the ultimate competitor or the dominant market share. Like Sonic, businesses are often plagued with dysfunction that keep them from competing in the marketplace. Facing those problems head on takes real, hard, painful work... Unfortunately, it's often easier to avoid or ignore these dysfunctions and force employees to pay the price in order to protect revenue. It takes work to do an ego-check. It takes work to fix a broken business model. It takes work to stay competitive. All this to say, a good leader looks in the mirror first before out the window at the employees.
What did Donnie do with all the spreadsheets, data, and the like that were totally nonsensical? He threw it all out, and the team began to focus on the simple truths that they knew worked for their business -- in this case, that their employees mattered more than anything. Donnie also can boast (though he wouldn't, he's too humble for that) that he led five record-breaking revenue years in his seven years at Tyson. Sometimes, simple is what works.
In business, we often say that even in a saturated market, the products that make it are the ones with the most value. Beyond all the fluff, these companies offer something real and meaningful. It's how Amazon rose from the ashes of the Dot-Com Crash.
Are you looking for your A-team to grow and scale your business? It works the same way as your products.
Build your team on pure, authentic value.
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About Good Advice
We left the corporate consulting world to help business owners grow and scale their businesses. Through strategy development and management advice, we partner with owners to take their businesses to the next level.
About Author: Blake Binns
I give a common-sense approach to business management with real, practical steps so you can grow.