By Ron Thomas
“I am successful because of my employees, they are the ones that made my business successful.”
That was a quote I heard the other day from Danny Meyer, owner and Chief Executive Officer of Union Square Hospitality Group, which comprises 11 restaurants in New York City. He said it while announcing a new company policy of eliminating tips in his restaurants.
This made big news because in the U.S., because unlike other countries, you are expected to tip workers for a job well done — whether it is for the meal being served or any other type of service provided.
This created quite the conversation about the merits of eliminating tips, both pro and con. However, that was not what attracted me to this story as I have no problem tipping at all.
You are the cause of my success
What I thoroughly enjoyed was hearing a CEO make a statement that equated his success to his employees hard work. Whether you have a killer strategy, product, or game-changing competitive differentiator, it all comes back to the most important component in that equation: Your worker.
It has nothing to do with your senior team that leads an organization, but it does have a lot to do with the VIPs called your workforce.
If you get that right, success will come.
So, I applaud Mr. Meyer in talking about the pillars of his organizational success. I often think that if more senior leaders spoke truth to that statement, a lot of the corporate ills we hear about would gradually fade away.
Success has a thousand fathers
Just the other day, Twitter’s new CEO announced that massive layoffs were coming. Wall Street applauded it as a good move, but a large portion of Twitter’s employee population would go home that evening in a daze. The strategy from the prior regime did not work, and guess who pays the price? There is a saying that success has a thousand fathers, and failure is an orphan.
Great employees are NOT replaceable. Yes, you can always find someone to do it cheaper, but in the end it is not your product or service that makes you great, it is your people.
It is that connection that they make to your organization, your customers, or your process to build that product that is the silver lining. That connection is strengthened when your employees feel that they are valued.
Statements are just WORDS
Mission and values statements have become de rigueur with companies spending large sums of money to craft the perfect statement. They wordsmith it to death and design and develop a master collection of words that make for the perfect statement.
However, if you do not connect that statement all the way down to the lowest stop on the totem pole [your organizational chart], you will not get a return on that investment. And, if your employees notice that your actions run counter to that well-crafted statement, it is lights out.
You have to live, eat and breathe that mission or values statement. That is what makes a top rate organization.
Danny Meyer’s proclamation to his restaurant employees really said more about his organization than some web page could ever do. One of the constants that leaders today must realize is that with the advent of social media and 24/7 news is that you are “always on.” Statements and actions, even made in jest, take a life of their own and have the ability’s too boost or bury you and your organization.
That makes it pretty clear: We have to live for corporate values in all our actions
A value that can’t be easily replaced
When your company has truly great employees, those workers carry value that simply cannot be replaced or quantified in an exchange. They carry deep institutional knowledge of the organization. They have extensive product knowledge, and process knowledge.
They hold client relationships that have been built over many years. They carry tremendous experience on what has worked and what hasn’t worked for the company in the past. And, great employees have camaraderie and influence with their co-workers, which when lost, has an impact on the corporate culture. Think of what the Twitter employees are feeling this weekend after that layoff announcement.
We can no longer sit idly by and pay lip service to our most important asset. We have to create an organization where we exhibit the value that we place in our people.
As my good friend Peter Makowski, CEO of American Hospital in Dubai, put it so eloquently,
“My job is to take care of the people who take care of the people.”
If we as leaders lived by that mantra, we would all have our organizations running like a well-tuned engine.