Success is never a solitary achievement.
Isaac Newton recognised this when he said, “If I have been able to see further it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”
Yet none of us achieve anything without depending on others. Perhaps there is a bit of poetic licence in Newton’s description, but the reality is that none of us can do anything without the efforts of others. Do you ever drive along the motorway and wonder about the people who helped to build it? Or travelled by train without thinking about the pioneers who built the first railway lines?
The fact is without their efforts nothing which we take for granted today would be possible. And that is as true in business as it is anywhere else. For example, greateManchester United might not be quite the same team without Wayne Rooney, but without the efforts of the groundsmen who keep the field in shape for Premier League and Champions’ League action, Rooney et al would find their game a lot more challenging. Similarly, Amazon might never have become the force it has without the people who locate, pack and ship your order.
Business is all about people. So ultimately it all boils down to your people. That is why it is more than a cliché to think of your people as your greatest asset. And the good news is that nobody wants to do a bad job, which means that the dice are loaded in your favour. That is why employee engagement is such a key issue. For, if your people are disengaged, you have lost your major competitive advantage.
Even, more significant, however, is the fact that if your people are disengaged, the problem resides with you. The culture you create and the environment you engender is what determines their level of engagement. So where do you and your organisation stand on that front?
If you don’t know if your people are engaged or not, or – even worse - if you know that they are disengaged, then you have a challenge. Unlike a reputation, engagement does not take a long time to create, but like your reputation it can be destroyed in an instant. And if it is, it takes a long time to restore. That is why you need to stop just talking about your people as assets and actually treat and manage them as though they were. That way you’ll be able to stand on their shoulders to create a human pyramid of success, without them feeling abused or taken advantage of.