There are two interesting questions I am asked when teaching business seminars. The first is, “What do I do if I’m trying to foster a strong family-like culture within my organization, but I have a long-term employee who everybody loves yet is clearly incompetent?” The other question is, “I want my company to be the best in the world. Is it possible to accomplish this?” My answer to these questions is, “It depends on your business philosophy.”
Two Sides of the Business Philosophy Coin
If you want to have a company that truly treats employees like family, where loyalty and harmony are valued over maximizing profits, then you will likely have to tolerate some level of mediocrity. I especially see this in family-owned businesses where relatives who work in the company are not competent yet remain in the organization, causing resentment from other employees and negatively impacting the bottom line. Again, what is more important to you in your business philosophy – people or profits? Yes, it is possible to have both, but when it is not working out, how will you make the difficult decision of when to retain or terminate a low-performing employee? It all depends on your philosophy of the business.
On the other side of the coin, people who want their business to be the best in the world approach me and ask if I can help them achieve it. My answer is, it depends on your business philosophy. If you are willing to pay the price of what it truly takes to be the best in the world, to only hire top talent, pay at the higher end of salary ranges, demand excellence, and be completely intolerant of mediocrity, then there is a chance your business might become among the best in the world. However, I have found very few companies that are willing to do the hard work of distinguishing themselves as the undisputed leader in their industry. It requires a sustained level of discipline, intensity, and obsession beyond what most people can muster.
Here are a few areas where the decisions you make will be based on your business’s philosophy.
- People first or profits first
- Value loyalty or value competence
- Focus on giving or focus on getting
- Do what is best for the customer or do what it takes to make the sale
- Be generous with salaries or pay as little as you possibly can
- Be fair and reasonable or drive for results at all costs
- Transparency or need to know only
The truth is there are no right or wrong answers to the questions above.
It all depends on your philosophy of business. What I can tell you is, the way you answer these questions will determine the long-term trajectory of your business, the kind of employees you attract, the type of customers you retain, and the amount of revenues and profits you earn. As a business owner/leader, what you tolerate, you’ll get more of – what you punish, you will get less of.
So, I encourage you to sit down and take the time to think through your vision, mission, and core business values and then carefully create a clear philosophy for:
- What do you stand for?
- How do you want your employees, customers, and community to think about your company?
- What core values do you want your culture based on?
- What behaviors will you reinforce and reward?
- What do you refuse to do?
When values are clear, decisions are easy.
I have a favorite Walt Disney saying, “When values are clear, decisions are easy.” I believe it is the same for your company. When you are clear about your values and philosophy, even the most trivial decisions can be overwhelming. But with a clear mission, vision, core values, and strong philosophy for how you will run your organization, even the most difficult decisions become obvious.
If you want to get in contact with me, I’d love to hear from you. Please visit my site at https://johnspence.com/contact/ and let me know how I can help.