Let’s talk today about an expression that we hear nearly everyday. The phrase simply asks the question or makes the statement about people and situations in our everyday life. The phrase:
* “she treated me well” or
* “he treated me fairly” or
* “the company treats its employees well” or
* “I won’t ever buy from that company again, I don’t like how I was treated” is used routinely in our thoughts and conversations. It’s almost as big a standard as other statements of people and situations like:
* “she is really smart,”
* “that’s an excellent company,”
* “they know what they are doing” or
* “they don’t have a clue.”
Let’s think of this standard of how we treat others and how others treat us as a fundamental basis of who we are as people. Think about your day to day conversations with friends and family and co-workers. It comes up a lot and often it is an overriding factor on decisions you make: how you raise your kids, who you pick as friends and employers, where you shop. Think about some situations that you’ve been in that have influenced your buying decisions in the present and in the future.
But what really does this have to do with us today…people in business? Being nice to people, being careful not only on what we say but how we say it?
What’s the connection?
Going back to our example of the credit union service rep…so what’s the big deal? She writes Continental and says how rude the attendant was. Is this a big deal? Will this affect the profitability of the airline? Are we reaching here?
Let’s remember some recent stories in the last year about how folks were treated and how the company responded. You be the judge on how the marketplace reacted.
BP: Well we could write a book about BP and I’m sure someone is doing just that. But let’s remember some headlines:
* “I want my life back” exhorted Tony Hayward, the CEO
* Cost cutting drew more attention from Wall Street than safety…Shame on Tony and Wall Street…BP’s market value dropped 40% in a 3 month period.
* And the board chair Carl-Henric Svanberg expressed his sympathy for the “small people”
* The WSJ reported it was “Mr. Hayward’s inability to generate much empathy from the American public that led to calls for his ouster.
* So Tony’s out of a job and BP’s value dropped 40%
So what do you think – any connection between how we treat others and the bottom line?
Let’s go back a bit in the history of BP and their takeover of Sohio. Charlie Spahr was the CEO of Sohio and Charley maintained a manager’s dining room and paid for the lunches of his top managers. Once BP took over they did away with this practice. The team building that Charley initiated to allow for inter-departmental communication received the ax. And at the end of the day cost cutting lead to a loss of the cohesive team and took precedent over safety.
So the emphasis of the bottom line and not the people may have backfired in the long run?
And it’s hard not to remember the disasters on Wall Street. Remember the arrogance of some of the dudes testifying before congressional committees. Fuld from Lehmann Brothers comes to mind. Do you think anyone would give him a break? Obviously they didn’t and Lehmann wasn’t rescued.
Remember a bank closer to home that wasn’t rescued either. It has been communicated to me by folks who saw this first hand that those in control acted horribly to the regulators. Well ole John Dugan the regulator took it for so long and let Peter Rakind, who succeeded Dave Daberko the year before, know that they wouldn’t be receiving any bailout. By the way PNC laid out a nice historical legacy of NCB at the bank’s Cleveland location. Dave Daberko is mysteriously missing.
By the way, an obscure but very large New York bank’s CEO was booted out the door prior to their rescue for how he treated the regulators.
So in these cases Wall Street didn’t dictate the decision, people did. Because that vast expanse we call the marketplace is made up of people who make decision based on things we learned on the school grounds – how we treat others is a big deal and it affects the success of individuals and organizations.