After a great town hall meeting, I’m all fired up, feeling inspired as an important person in the company. The sales directors have just forecast a great sales future, adding to our faith and security while still coming out of a nasty recession. The CEO wants us to know that they really care about us as individuals and want us to like what we do and act in team spirit as high performers, when suddenly I say to myself, “Wait a minute. Why don’t I always feel this way?”
Now, I’ve been around the block when it comes to working for companies large and small during my working career and never once did I ever really feel a part of it. I did in spirit, like high school camaraderie, but there’s still that dividing line – company owner versus employee. Some days it feels more like master versus slave, captain versus private, kings versus surfs. And of course, the list goes on demonstrating how that feels.
So, there are those days I feel like just another slave taking orders and making sure I still bring home a paycheck. After work, I go home, have a glass of vino, and watch the tube. Do I feel good about that kind of existence? The answer is no, and if that kind of existence goes on much longer, eventually it festers into resentment, and resentment turns into disinterest. Disinterest turns into bad performance, and eventually one leaves, or is terminated.
I think what keeps most folks interested in their work are when they are praised for a job well done; have good leaders who believe in their talents and gets along with co-workers, and are satisfied with their pay. Ah, Life is good. Sigh. But is this all it takes to be a high performer? I think high performers don’t ask what the company can do for them, but what they can do for their company. To those of us who were around in 1963, that sounds very familiar. President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
When you ask what you can do for someone or something, it puts you in the driver’s seat. You no longer feel like just another sweaty slave tilling the land. Now you are volunteering. And when you volunteer as opposed to just taking orders, and doing your job like a horse with blinders on, you own something. It’s no longer about a paycheck. It’s about a sense of ownership. You may not be legally the rightful owner of the company, but you when you think like an owner, your value as an employee increases ten-fold. For instance, think to yourself; what would I do in a difficult situation if I owned this company? What would I do to resolve an issue? Simply put, if this were my company I’d really scramble to find the answers I want to hear or find the best solution I could find if it were mine. I want to know if that’s the best price I can get for those new computers. I don’t want to just wait for someone else to tell me how to do it. I want to take ownership.
So, you’re not the owner of GM, The Hilton, BP, or Wal*Mart. Just think, without their employees they would be nothing and they know it. If they had not a single employee or contractor to move them along, they would be dead ducks.
With that thought in mind, who really owns these companies anyway?