Check out the latest news reports from Wall Street and the focus is almost always on profits and losses.
How much is the market up or down? Which corporation made how much money this quarter?
But in recent years, some CEOs have begun to rethink the idea that profits should be the driver behind every decision. Instead, there’s an emerging philosophy that having a purpose beyond money and putting people first – especially employees – places companies in a better position to succeed in the long run.
“A piece of advice I got from a mentor a long time ago was this: ‘Your job as CEO is not to grow a company, your job is to grow people who grow the company,’ ” says Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant.
“If you want to be a big business that is respected far and wide, you’ve got to get into the business of growing people. Watching others learn, grow, and develop has been one of the most rewarding parts of my entrepreneurial journey.”
Witty, founder and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks, says his goal is always to hire smart people, and to create a working environment that breeds greatness in them.
He has a number of tactics for achieving that. Just a few of those include:
• Make sure everyone is in alignment. Everyone in the company, from the intern all the way up to the CEO, should know what the company’s strategic plan is and how what they do each day helps the company achieve that plan, Witty says. “What I’ve found in most businesses is the senior leaders want to keep the company’s strategic plan a secret,” he says. “They think all these important things shouldn’t be discussed with the rank and file.” But if employees aren’t clear about the company’s plan, Witty asks, how can they successfully help bring it about?
• Let facts and data guide decisions. Witty is fond of telling his employees, “When it comes to decision making, if we’re going to go with opinions, we’ll go with mine.” In reality, he doesn’t want to make decisions based on even his opinion; he prefers facts and data. He lets employees know he’s open to their ideas, but he expects those ideas to be backed up with facts and data that demonstrate why it’s a good idea.
• Encourage professional development. If employees aren’t careful, the company will grow and they won’t grow with it in terms of their abilities. That’s why Witty says he encourages 120 hours per year of professional development for everyone on his team. He grants each employee with $1,000 per year to buy business books, invest in online seminars, attend classes or take other steps that help them improve. “If you don’t have the aptitude, drive and desire to improve yourself, why would I want you on my team?” Witty asks.
• Have fun. Employees should enjoy the journey and each other, Witty says. Not only is that good for the employees’ personal well being, but it’s also good for the company. Studies have shown that happy employees are more productive.
Ultimately, Witty says, it’s important for both businesses and their employees to adapt to a changing world, or else they will find themselves left behind.
“You may not like change,” Witty says, “but you will dislike irrelevance even more.”