In business, it’s all about the bottom line. Or is it? A recent study at Baylor University concluded that supervisors who focus on profits without concern for employee well-being or ethical issues negatively affect employee performance.
Researchers found that high bottom-line-mentality (BLM) supervisors (as rated by their people) create low-quality relationships with their employees. Employees perceive a poor give-and-take dynamic with their supervisors. As a result, they’re less motivated to perform at their best. Unsurprisingly, when a supervisor’s BLM is high and an employee’s BLM is low, the effect is magnified. Yet even if a supervisor and employee both have a high BLM, there is still a negative effect.
The lesson is clear and, I’ll admit, one that took me a while to learn as a manager: You hire employees but human beings show up to work. And if you don’t connect with them at a human level, they’re not going to give you their best.
Working at FedEx, it was often said that the role of a leader is to elevate their people so they willingly provide discretionary effort not just mandatory effort. And what would cause them to provide discretionary effort? When they feel good (not think, but feel) about their supervisor, their work, the organization, its purpose, and what it stands for. Ultimately, how they feel about all of those influences how they feel about themselves.
So, should you not focus on the bottom line? Think of it this way: be process-focused and results-driven. Drive to achieve results by focusing on the process most likely to achieve them. A critical part of that process is connecting with, equipping, coaching, supporting, and valuing your people. Then they’ll give you discretionary effort. And then you’re likely to grow the bottom line.
Make it happen.
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