More and More Employees are Responding to Mission Instead of Growth-Based Goals

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

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By 2025, this needs to be a $100M business. That means we need to grow 25% Y/Y. What initiatives should we do in order to get there? Bring the business cases, any reasonable idea will be approved!

What happens next?

Well what you think happens, happens. Lots of ideas are proposed. Some might even get signed off on if they have the right political capital behind them. The projects that improve profitability most are immediately approved.

The projects that target operational efficiencies are often ignored (not enough benefit). What also gets left by the wayside is any discussion about your target customer, the choices they have, and what they have been asking for — in some cases for years — from your company.

The Customer Is Often Ignored

It’s ironic isn’t it? It seems like at a time of growth and investment, the customer’s plight would be front and center in the mind of the company.

BUT I HAVE TO GROW!

Look, we all have investors. Whether it’s the public markets, private equity, or yourself. Growth is fundamental. However, what most executives miss is that employees don’t care about growth for its own sake. They care about your mission. They care about helping people.

I’m not saying they don’t care about growth. But they won’t emotionally engage about the pressure you are under from your Board of Directors to grow. They won’t.

The big missing insight is this:

THE BIG MISSING INSIGHT: CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE!

Usually big insights aren’t so big. They are really right under your nose. However, it’s much harder to develop a mission that your market and the employees believe in.

Your employees don’t make as much as you do if they company does well. They don’t have the same performance plans that you do. They also aren’t under the same pressures that you are. They don’t respond to the same incentives you do. More and more, employees want to emotionally engage with, and be passionate about, the work they are doing. Projects to improve the company’s margin by 2% in 2 years might be super-exciting to the CFO, but will fall flat with your star performers and make them wonder if another company would better fit them.

Rick Watson