Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sharing Nugget #9

#9: A single person, at the right place, with the right heart, can also make a huge difference.

This is a story told by my younger sister.

She works in an architectural firm which epitomizes the type of companies that value bottom-lines more than employees. There is almost no welfare and appreciation for employees. The turn over rate is high. And staff loyalty is non-existence.

The company is owned by 6 directors. To whom most of the profits that the company makes go to. Very limited percentage actually goes back to the company – for staff bonuses etc. The staff has not had any bonuses for years. And the only raise in that time is a token $200 per month increase.

My impression is that the directors have no regards for employees. The latter are merely tools to earn that bit of cash for the directors to spend on. The company is unable to hold on to talented people – thus trapping it in a vicious cycle: no talented staff leads to poor designs, which leads to less projects, which causes the inability to pay for good architects, which loses the company more projects…

Almost anywhere else pays better. So managers cannot hold on to their staff. Managers leave because they cannot do their jobs. The only thing sustaining the company is the “guan xi” the directors have that pulls in the projects.

What can we learn from this story?

I imagined a scenario that summarizes what we can take out of this sad case.

If I one day, fate should allow me to build a successful company, this is what I will do. I will first declare legally that only, say, 10% of the profits goes to me and my family. Say 40% will go to adopted community organizations and charities, and the rest to the employees and company expenses.

I will make staff welfare a major core value of the company. Emphasis will be put on grooming employees. They will be empowered to make decisions, since they all have a stake in the profits. There are many other ways to do it, but my key intent will be to create a place where employees are taken care of.

This is not possible if the boss is motivated by money. Then the boss will be doing his best to suck the employees for all they are worth and then discard them. To me, that is disgusting. I believe that taking care of the employees gives then a motivation to work, which will bring in more profits, which will increase their earnings, which will motivate them more – not just because they are greedy, but remember, 40% goes back to the community. So who’s benefiting most?

This is a positive cycle as opposed to the one at my sister’s company. There is more motivation and meaning to come to work.

Sure, some people will say that this might not work and it is too unrealistic. But hey, instead of saying it doesn’t work, why not think of how to make it work? Every great accomplishment starts with a dream in someone’s head.

What if someone is able to accomplish this dream?

If so, a single person, at the right place, with the right heart, can also make a huge difference.

In fact, there are 2 persons who are making a difference right now - Bill and Melinda Gates. Their foundation’s aid to foreign countries is outweighed by only a dozen or so COUNTRIES. Kudos to you, Gates family.


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