Employees are your biggest investors.
How can I say that? How can I quantify that?
Let’s add up their investments.
Their investment is the majority of their waking hours. That's the best part of their day. Should be the best part of their day if you give them a chance.
Time is a most precious resource. Once spent, it can never be reclaimed. And they invest the majority of this resource in building a company.
BRAIN-POWER & TALENTS
Along with time, they invest their brain-power and talent. How much they invest is up to you. I’m not denying personal responsibility. Of course everyone can choose to be the best [insert title]. But what holds so many back is the lack of support and opportunity, ok leadership and management to realize that affirmation. At home, more of their destiny rests in their hands with their choices. At work...the power dynamic shifts that control to your hands.
Statistics show that only a minority of employees are fully engaged, fully invested, emotionally and intellectually with their work. I bet that was not the case on their first interview or their first few days, weeks and months.
That investment is a contingency-based investment. It is contingent on their being recognized, their having the tools and resources to make use of their brain-power and talents. It is contingent on their organization creating a system of incentives, tangible and intangible, that aligns their investment goals with the organization's investment goals.
And yes, it is contingent on their willingness to forge ahead from a grass-roots level in the face of seemingly daunting distractions at the C-Suite level.
THEIR OPPORTUNITY COST?
Every investment has an opportunity cost. That’s the cost of the opportunity, opportunities, not chosen. For your employees, it’s their personal lives - what’s sacrificed at home and in their health. It’s called work-life balance or, if we’re being honest, it’s the lack of balance between our work and the rest of our lives.
They squeeze it in around deadlines, overtime, meetings, bosses so crazy they need an hour each night so they can vent their frustration at their families and friends. The cost is their health and their family and community dynamics.
So many employees give their lives to their work in spite of misaligned incentives, managers who forget to recognize their dedication, companies unwilling to match that investment with an investment in their tools, training and careers.
Now let's compare these investments to those investments of a financial nature.
VCs consider the principals of a startup as their key criteria.
What if your employees considered your leadership as a key criteria for theirs? Weird, isn’t it? Scary, too.
But they already do. Their level of engagement is their endorsement of you. And like VCs they withhold another round of investing, raising their commitment and engagement, where they see a deficiency in leadership and management.
So if you honor the greater investment of your employees, including their higher opportunity costs, by treating them as your most important investor you’ll generate the returns your other investors want to see. That’ll inspire both investors to step for another round when they’re asked. Your employees will step up with more engagement; your other investors will write another check.