Let me ask you: is it the responsibility of an organisation to change the lives of their employees?

Yes or no?

I’m looking your first answer – the one that instantaneously forced itself into your conscious mind, because the answer that is true for you will be based upon your experiences, as a employee, a manager, a leader and maybe even as an employer. Your answer will be based upon the sum total of your experiences as a human being to date, and it will also be heavily influenced by the experiences, beliefs and attitudes of your parents, teachers, peers and pretty well everybody who has had a significant influence on you – ever.

Your first answer to this question will also have a profound effect on the sort of leader that you are, or that you will eventually become.

Imagine for a moment how it would feel to work for an organisation that truly believed that it was their responsibility to change the lives of their employees, and then acted according to that belief.

·      How would that feel? How do you think this belief would impact upon organisational culture and the attitudes of the leadership team?

·      What effect would it have upon Employee Survey results, on engagement and empowerment scores?

·      How would this belief influence on staff retention, succession planning, creativity, innovation and team spirit?

·      How much better would you perform working within an organisation that you absolutely knew had your best intentions at heart, and whose growth and success was reliant and dependent upon you growing and being successful too?

Several years ago, back in the days when I was working within organisations I was lucky enough to be employed by a very well known Fortune 500 Company who’s simple mission statement was to become a ‘compelling place to work, shop and invest’ – in that order. At the time (and things may well have changed now) this organisation passionately believed that if they took care of their people, their people would in turn feel motivated and inspired to look after their customers, and if their customers had a compelling experience that they would keep coming back, and that, in turn, would keep the investors happy. And it worked.  Of all of the companies and organisations that I have ever worked for (and there have been quite a few), this organisation got the very best out of me. I was inspired and enabled and I felt trusted and respected, and I paid it forward. The organisational culture was set up in such a way that I too felt free to inspire, enable and trust my team(s) in the same way. The results were extraordinary. For a period of 3 years everything gelled, we all worked incredibly hard, and we played hard. We were breaking company sales records consistently month after month, growing faster, and more profitably, than any other company within – what is still to this day – a hugely competitive industry. I was given the opportunity to grow and develop, moving up from Sales Manager, to Regional Sales Manager, to Head of Sales. I was given the opportunity to progress all the way through to Sales Director (although I kinda blew that one – but that’s another story!).

Then, one day this organisation decided that it would be a good idea to buy one of their competitors, the biggest UK player in the industry. Virtually overnight the culture changed and it no longer felt like a company that cared about changing the lives of its employees. Senior people left and good people left with them. An awful lot of big customers followed. This organisation – one that I had purchased shares in, and that I was (at the time) happy to commit the rest of my career with, became an alien place – or at least one where many of us felt alienated and unappreciated.

So going back to the question at the top of this page, there is no real right or wrong answer. Organisations are, unequivocally, quite within their rights to state that it is not their responsibility to change the lives of their employees. And the chances are they will ( for sound business reasons) continue to try to put processes and procedures in place to drive up their Sunday Times Top 100 scores for engagement and enablement and wellbeing, and so on and so forth……. and just maybe the thing that would make the biggest difference of all is all about one simple big decision.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” 

Barack Obama

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