Career Boosting Newsletter
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A great resource for learning more about key areas
of public relations practice, which will help your career path.
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Treat employees as your key stakeholders
Where I worked as a branch manager for several years, the head of my business unit, which employed about 120 people, held a meeting of managers. That was a good idea – except it was 18 months since the previous meeting! Then at the meeting, when managers raised various issues that needed action, the business unit head nodded his head – and subsequently ignored every matter. Never followed up anything, large or small. Nothing.
These were frontline issues directly about paying customers. What impact do you think this had on the morale of managers and hence on all staff? And to what extent did this neglect affect revenue? Needless to say, I was happy to leave to step up as CEO of an organization.
Similarly, in a previous job as Corporate Affairs Manager at Western Power, I attended all weekly Executive Committee meetings along with my boss, the divisional general manager. My boss would then brief the 7-8 branch managers in our division on the outcomes from each Executive meeting. So I attended both meetings. What amazed me was the way my boss played power games with branch managers in the divisional briefings by withholding and putting spin on information and decisions from Executive meetings to show himself in a good light.
“The world’s broken workplace”
These episodes represent the sort of senior management thinking so widespread in organizations – and for so many years. Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of the influential Gallup organization noted the results of the Gallup World Poll in 2017 that “the practice of management has been frozen in time for more than 30 years.” This is certainly the case in my own experience. Managers at all levels don’t make enough effort with their staff. Yet top management wonder why employee engagement survey results are so poor.
Mr Clifton further commented on the results from Gallup’s World Poll, taken in 160 countries, that:
“Only 15% of the world's one billion full-time workers are engaged at work. It is significantly better in the US, at around 30% engaged, but this still means that roughly 70% of American workers aren't engaged.”
“Employees join a company and then quit their manager”
And he said:
“Employees everywhere don't necessarily hate the company or organization they work for as much as they do their boss. Employees – especially the stars – join a company and then quit their manager” [or general manager!].
It’s not just that employees need to change, it’s their bosses just as much!
Employees are your most important stakeholders
Important research from PR lecturer Nigel de Bussy, now head of the Curtin University Business School in Western Australia, found that employees are by far the most important stakeholders in enabling a company to achieve stronger financial performance. He surveyed 616 Australian organizations with 80+ employees, measuring the extent to which making a priority of each of the main stakeholder groups influences financial performance.
His research was summarized in the article, “Dialogue as a basis for stakeholder engagement,” published in The SAGE Handbook of Public Relations, edited by Robert Heath. The research showed that the correlation between good employee orientation and strong financial performance was 0.84 compared with much lower values for customer orientation (0.36), suppliers (0.35) and communities (0.32). The correlation for shareholder orientation was minimal at 0.08. A correlation of 1.0 is the highest possible.
The takeaway: a strategy to make employees the most important stakeholders of an organization produces far better financial results than giving priority to other stakeholders, even customers.
De Bussy’s survey was based on the extent to which genuine dialogue and respect existed between managers and main organizational stakeholders. When considering employees as stakeholders, respondents were asked to rate the extent to which the following statements were true for their organization:
How well does your organization perform on these measures?
And if you are a manager, how well do you rate on them?
Orientation with other stakeholders
You might be interested in the following statements about two-way relationships put to the 616 organizations in de Bussy’s research. You can use these to help decide the extent to which your organization is maintaining constructive relationships with its stakeholders: