There are still grave concerns throughout our business environment, for our struggling economy has affected so much.
Yet from where I sit, the half-full, optimistic view is getting easier day by day, slowly still, but surely. People are investing in training and education again, or they simply are getting braver about asking for help, reaching out instead of hunkering down, and that alone has me cheering. My invitations to speak have started to flow in greater number, and my travel calendar is filling up. Good for me, yes, but highly dependent on my responding to you.
One way a speaker like me keeps her fingers on the pulse of what people are feeling, is through the agendas of the conferences we are invited to participate in, and the conversations which happen in the hallways. Currently it is very, very clear that financial strategies within shifting business models is a hot topic —as they should be.
In 2010 everyone wants improved financial health
However, the fact that everyone wants financial health is as much of an assumption as managers can make.
If asked, “What’s the value of more money to you?” would you and your staff answer in the same way, even if I asked you to keep your answers in the context of the business?
You must be sure you both want your company to make money for the same reasons, that you agree on how you will go about it, and how you will spend it. If not, having more money in an economy as emotionally charged as ours is, could actually add a whole set of new problems you’ll need to deal with. Are priorities for spending, versus saving, versus investing clear? Have the “what’s in this for me?” and “will I reap what I sow?” questions been answered?
Whoa: Isn’t that my prerogative?
This is, and has always been, a tough reality for managers, and the business owners they represent, to accept. They feel that many financial decisions are their prerogative, their right, and that every other employee of an organization signed up for that reality, knowing that is just the way it is, and that not all things are democratic.
My question to you, is this: What is more important? Maintaining your “benevolent dictatorship” about your financial strategies, or gaining a collective intelligence, and a more collaborative, and trusting team environment?
Others in your organization are much closer to a host of variables than you can ever hope to be —and often, it’s a closeness that IS their job, and not yours. They need to learn from you, and you need to learn from them. Together you make a better team, and come up with better answers. Chances are, they have a clue to some financial answer which presently evades you. You cannot know everything: It is preposterous to think that finance is an exception.
Wealth is a value
Fact is, we cannot define the wealth of a healthy business simply in financial terms as managers because our employees don’t, and that is a reality you will never, ever change or escape.
Money is part of everyone’s reality, and our global recession is the evidence plain as the nose on your face, but wealth is a value too, and not simply a result. For most of us, wealth is also defined by family, connection to our ancestry, and our best vision of our future. All of these find their inner spirit, their constancy, and their strength in the values which shape our thinking, and our actions. We cannot help but bring our feelings about all these things to the business which employs us, especially when we are expected to help the business become more wealthy than we are likely to ever be as individuals. When the needs of our spirit are met, we find that any financial wealth we gain is most satisfying when shared in service to the community which had been there for us, and lifted us toward our greater good.
Thinking of wealth as a value can help you so, so much. The big deal about values, is that they explain our behavior, and sharing values gets us to collaborate within better agreements. When we as managers equip ourselves with a values vocabulary in the context of a work environment, using them as the building blocks of a well-functioning work culture, we make that culture relevant to a community, healthier for our employees, and much more useful to us as the ambassadors of a company’s mission.
Frankly, we make our job as managers easier in the process too. As we have spoken of here before, money is not evil; it is a means to an end, and when you have it, business life is pretty sweet. Simply because you can do way more good than you can without having it. Those “doing way more good” decisions merit discussion!
Blast from the past:
Financial Literacy Has Never Been More Timely
There are far too many organizations where people don’t speak up often enough because they feel they cannot intelligently carry their part of the conversation. I HATE seeing that in play in workplace cultures, and it is my stance that managers are the ones responsible for brokering these conversations constantly. Great managers introduce the meaty topics of financial literacy consistently as practice, and they hand out those red flags they want at the ready in everyone’s pocket.
Business takes a whole village, and a highly conversational one. If you are not now having the conversations conducive to continually ramping up the level of financial literacy in your workplace, for goodness sake, start today.
The goal is financial literacy, and transparency through education
I believe that businesses have a responsibility to offer thorough, and completely transparent financial literacy training to all their employees. It’s one of the smartest financial strategies which I know of, because it answers that “What’s in this for me?” self-leadership question on several levels: Your employees learn financial lessons in a harsh new great-recession world as they co-author better business models with you.
Everyone needs and wants money today. A co-authored, value-aligned business model is one employees support, never dreaming of sabotage or mutiny, and never succumbing to far bigger evils, such as the mediocrity of going through the motions or not caring, or the hopeless feeling of there being no other option in sight.
So by all means, work on those business models. However if you are pursuing more learning in the process, do not exclude your staff: Learn together. Whoever the financial guru doing the teaching, take the time to compare notes, and teach each other as well.