There was a story in the Wall St. Journal yesterday indicating that because of the instability in the economy, job recruiters are having difficulty finding candidates for job openings in some companies. It seems that many executives are wary of leaving what they know for a company they don’t know. And there seems to be good evidence that their fears are not unfounded. A number of companies have hired, then almost immediately let go those who have most recently been brought into the fold under the “last hired, first fired” policy many firms have in place.
Although this is not a new insight, what concerns me is the continuing spiral down in the loyalty shown from either the company or the employees to the other. Almost every decision seems to be considered solely on the basis of what can you provide in the short term to fulfill my wants. Without a commitment, a company loses it’s investment in the intellectual and creative capital it’s established.
When people are living in uncertainty and fear, some of the first qualities they drop is their creativity and care for relationships that don’t immediately feed their sense of security. What that translates into for the company is loss of innovation and customer support. Without these two qualities, what does a company really have to offer to distinguish it from a competitor? A lower price point?
The painter Willem de Kooning observed, “The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time.” Whether real or imagined, people are feeling poor at this time. And in feeling poor, they have ditched some of their hope, their vision of what’s possible. That’s not only a loss for their lives, but a loss for the company which employs them.
In his book, Lovemarks, Kevin Roberts states, “I believe that the role of business is to make the world a better place for everyone…by focusing our creative minds on innovating for the greater good.” When a company innovates with its services or products in a manner which genuinely benefits the world, it usually profits as well. Throughout his book, Roberts encourages companies to move beyond thinking about products, services or even brands. He proposes that a company think in terms of serving its customers in such a way as to develop a loyalty or a lovemark with them. But neither loyalty nor love can be sold through advertising. It must be won through the interactions a buyer has with the company. Upper management often seems to forget those interactions happen through people – those very same people whose emotional capital has been spent on just keeping their jobs.
If you want your customers to know your love for them, you gotta show ‘em that love through the people who represent you to them. An employee who doesn’t have a well of love to draw from has no where to share it from.