Saturday, October 1, 2016

Why It Pays to Treat Your Employees Well by Bryan Neva & Allen Laudenslager

Why It Pays to Treat Your Employees Well
by Bryan Neva & Allen Laudenslager


President Lyndon B. Johnson
On May 4th, 1965, during the Vietnam War, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave his famous "Hearts and Minds" speech in which he said, "We must be ready to fight in Vietnam, but the ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there." 

Sergeant Rock
The troops reaction to President Johnson's speech was best expressed by the Army's newspaper Stars and Stripes in their cartoon called Sergeant Rock (the quintessential hard-corps sergeant). One cartoon had him standing in full field gear holding his M-16 with the caption, “When you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow!" (This quote is actually attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.)

Saddam Hussein
While humorous in a military setting, it illustrates the proverbial management dilemma of how to motivate people as it is much easier to use fear, intimidation, and force than it is to persuade and influence and ultimately win the hearts and minds of one's people as Saddam Hussein infamously illustrated in Iraq.

H. Ross Perot
Leadership implies followers and willing followers at that. Leaders are out in front with their followers behind them, while the Sergeant Rock approach is that of a sheepdog herding the unwilling. The famous Texas billionaire businessman, H. Ross Perot, summed up this dilemma quite well when he said, “Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be led."



Management by leadership takes work, effort, training, and the right character. Far too many managers were successful individual contributors before they were promoted beyond their training and abilities; their fallback is an authoritarian management style by fear and intimidation rather than by leadership and influence.

Where did these managers learn this style? First from their parents who said “Eat all your green beans or no dessert for you!”, then from their teachers who said, “Sit still or you will end up in detention!”, and finally from their boss who said “Do what I tell you or get fired!” Well if these got their attention and made them conform, why shouldn’t they use it when they become managers?

I (Bryan) once had a manager who used a decision tree he got from some book on how to manage employees. Can you imagine using a "cookbook" approach to managing people? As ridiculous as this sounds (and believe me, I was laughing on the inside), most people promoted into management positions don't have a damn clue on how to actually lead or manage people! We've got news for you ace, leading and managing people is not easy and can't be condensed into a decision tree or a cookbook.

Given our combined decades of experience and management education and training, we're still shocked and appalled whenever we see or hear about managers and companies mistreating their employees through archaic fear and intimidation tactics when all the management research confirms that if you treat your employees well they'll produce more for you, but if you treat them poorly they won't! It's a tried and true profit strategy that has been proven for thousands of years. In fact, you don't even need academic research to prove this: it's just plain common sense for crying-out-loud!

If you think back on your own working career you'll find this to be true: the managers that treated you well you worked harder for (even when they weren't looking), but the managers who treated you poorly you did just enough to get by and not get fired while you privately looked for another job.

Most people who work in hostile working environments where they're treated poorly usually stay just long enough to find another job. The turnover in hostile working environments is usually quite high and it's a clear indicator of poor management at all levels in an organization.

So why are so many companies and managers today regressing to old, ineffective, management tactics by fear and intimidation? We believe that the financialization of corporate America has a lot to do with it. Companies are now so beholden to Wall Street to produce short-term gains at the expense of their long-term viability that they honestly don't care about the morale and wellbeing of their employees or employee turnover; they don't care about the long-term survival and productivity of their companies; they don't care about the wellbeing of their communities where they operate; they don't care about our environment; they just want to make a profit-at-any-price!  And they'll (figuratively) crack the whip on the backs of their employees, throw their own mothers under the bus, or make a deal with the devil just to make Wall Street happy!

And if you'd like more proof that treating your employees well pays-off, here's a list of several articles that support our claim:

Simply put, treating your employees well is a tried and true business, organizational, productivity, and profit strategy that in the long-run pays-off big time, while treating your employees poorly is a business strategy that ultimately fails!

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