Whom do I work for?


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If you work for a company, whom do you really work for? Or whom should you really work for?

Ask an executive this question and the answer will be for the company or the boss. However, when you dig deeper, we find that executives and employees typically think of the three main pillars of a company

The investors (represented by management)

The customer hopefully represented by you (the employee) and the management

The employees (managed by the managers)

If you were in Japan you would have said you worked in a family, the family being your company. This system was based on three precepts, lifetime employment, seniority-based wages, and enterprise-based unionism. To these, a fourth precept was later added: community consciousness within the company, one based on vertical relationships, reciprocal obligations, and decision-making by consensus.

However, in the Western world, we have to decide whom we work for.

Today, it is becoming clearer than ever before that we really should be working for the customer. But the reality is we work for our bosses.

In a survey, we found that 90% of the employees said the customer comes first, and managers should work for customers and employees. Managers, on the other hand were evenly divided on the investor and the customer coming first.

Perhaps there is one more pillar we should work for. This fourth pillar is ourselves.

Thus working for ourselves (looking out for oneself), or creating value for ourselves should become an important part of our thinking.

If management is focused on adding value for the employees, then this fourth pillar all but disappears, or becomes a smaller aspect.

So let us re-ask:

Whom are we working for? Investor, Customer or Employee

Thought 1

Does the customer really come first to you or are you just saying this because this is the fashionable (politically correct)?

Ask yourself, when push comes to shove who comes first the company (read investor) or the customer; or the boss or the customer?

The answer is pretty obvious.

Then why do we pretend? Or are we forced to pretend? Or is the company not truly in sync with the customer? Or is it mouthing the right words but doing the wrong things?

Thought 2.

Maybe some CEO’s and executives will say all three, employees and customers and investors are equally important. Maybe they are symbiotically attached and one cannot function in the absence of the other? Or the three are the necessary pillars and the foundation for success (however described).

If you believe this, then you have to ask if truly you are not veering towards one or the other.

You have to ask if you have independent programs focusing on each one of these pillars.

Will this continue even when there are problems with one of the pillars (or focus, and generally on the investor).

So the moment financial results falter, the focus on employees and customers, goes away, the spending and effort on customers and employees is reduced.

So one pillar is favoured over the others.

Why? Does the investor think he is most important? Or is it the CEO deciding that he must focus on the investor to get his bonus? Or is it because the investor does not get proper and sufficient data on employee and customer assets? Or that the CEO does not have this data?

And therefore the investor and the CEO thinks customer and employee data are not as important as financial data?

You, CEO’s and investors have a lot to learn and do! If you don’t you will not change, and will not create value. You have to start looking at your company culture as Zappos did. Culture is about purpose. Culture means that the employee and customers come first. It is about building a relationship with employees and a Like-Like experience for the customer (all positive).

If it works for Zappos and they grew exponentially with the employee/customer culture, so can you.

Whom do you work for?

Your comments are welcome!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gautam Mahajan
Gautam Mahajan, President of Customer Value Foundation is the leading global leader in Customer Value Management. Mr Mahajan worked for a Fortune 50 company in the USA for 17 years and had hand-on experience in consulting, training of leaders, professionals, managers and CEOs from numerous MNCs and local conglomerates like Tata, Birla and Godrej groups. He is also the author of widely acclaimed books "Customer Value Investment: Formula for Sustained Business Success" and "Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking." He is Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value (jcv.sagepub.com) and runs the global conference on Creating Value (https://goo.gl/4f56PX).


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