One Saturday morning, about fifteen years ago, my elderly father-in-law and I sat in the morning sun, sharing a few stories over a cup of tea. He was asking about my then burgeoning advisory work and family life. I was interested in hearing him reflect on his experiences in business, particularly his career-long journey with the same employer—from a junior staff member to, eventually, chief executive.
As he spoke, Bill reminded me that he only ever had one employer, and that although he had been blessed to contribute at many levels he had only ever completed one job interview, that being when he first got a job. He went on to talk about the power of team over individual, and of loyalty to both your employer and your own principles. Much has changed since he retired in 1984, not the least of which has been the erosion of the values that served as Bill's North Star throughout his career.
Today, most things are negotiable. For many, the motivation has changed, from providing service (to the employer) to self-service. Never has this been more apparent in the everyday behaviours of staff, particularly the younger generation. If we don't get want we want, or if we get a better offer elsewhere, we act. That staff and customers are more interested in self(ie) has huge implications for productivity and value creation in the longer-term. While team productivity is a matter for the chief executive, value creation is the responsibility of the board on behalf of the shareholder. How is your board wrestling with this? Does your board regularly allocate time to understand the changing environment, consider strategic options and make strategic decisions? Companies that expect to thrive in the future need to address the emergent challenge of 'self(ie)'. The best place to start the discussion is in the boardroom.
Thoughts on corporate purpose, strategy and governance; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.