The Power of People

“100% of customers are people. 100% of employees are people. If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.” Simon Sinek, author of the classic “Start With Why”

Every company, regardless of size, structure, market share, and purpose is built on the foundation of one common and highly important dynamic: people. It is their collective passion, energy, and intellectual property that contribute to our respective product, profitability, and culture.

For those of us in the service business the only assets we truly have are our people. At the end of each and every day these assets go home and you pray like hell they come back the next day. Moreover, the business climate today is extremely fluid, volatile, unpredictable, and rapidly evolving.

To that end, it is leadership’s task to create an environment where employees learn, grow, and have fun. To provide a place that instills loyalty. And where high performers are recognized, rewarded, and given greater organizational responsibilities based on merit.

Herb Kelleher built Southwest Airlines around a rather simple, yet unorthodox principle at the time: his responsibility was solely to his employees and not necessarily his customers. His rationale was if his employees were “happy” it would transcend and influence the experience people had with Southwest at all levels from passengers to stakeholders. Those principles are as evident today as they were decades ago.

Companies with high employee satisfaction – and consistently recognized as “best places to work” – make people their primary objective. And Inspira is proud to be listed among Connecticut’s best places to work.

People are the primary purpose for our existence on a number of different levels. Our unique culture is a result of the values that emanate from the fire of passion (hence our flame icon) as to why we started the agency. And at the end of the day, all of our great work fuels our mission to do great things by helping in the fight against pediatric cancer.
But this philosophy is not unique. Many companies share similar values. And while business models may vary, we all share most of the following philosophies:

Open and Honest Environment. The best teams thrive because they promote a culture where there is an open, candid, and frank exchange of ideas. A tremendous example of this is Pixar’s “Braintrust” meetings (from Ed Catmull’s book “Creativity, Inc.”). Essentially they put smart, passionate people in a room, ask them to objectively analyze everything about the movie in development (i.e., story arc, characters, dialogue, distribution, etc.), and have them identify and solve problems to “root out mediocrity” and achieve higher levels of excellence. Can’t argue with their success!

Intellectual Curiosity. I’m often reminded of the quote, “Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the only one who asked why.” We should always be challenging conventional thinking: not to be revolutionary, but to seek more meaningful insights and transformative solutions. Asking questions is not a sign of weakness, but a pillar of strength and exceptional thought leadership.

Trust and Respect. You don’t necessarily have to like everyone you work with, but it’s critically important to respect one another’s thinking, contributions, and talent. Leadership is about managing disparate personalities and skill sets to maximize output regardless of personal agendas, hurting one’s feelings, and office politics.

Tear Down The Walls of Territorialism. We’re a team, shouldn’t we all try to pull together in the same direction versus managing through the toxic effects of politics, gossip, rumors, and cliques? Our goal should be to create and foster a culture of collaboration. To promote an environment where 1+1+1=5!

Diversity. The most effective teams flourish because there is a harmony of talent, backgrounds, and experiences. Innovation is borne from a confluence of different thinking, pushing “product” to new and unimaginable levels.

Solution Driven. Problems inevitably pop up. It’s Murphy’s Law, especially in our business. Instead of pointing fingers and blaming others, successful organizations create an atmosphere where everyone is looking for solutions. There is plenty of time for lessons learned post-mortem.
For me, the organizations with the strongest commitment to people emanates from its purpose. For when they have a clear and distinctive purpose then the work, relationships, and growth will undoubtedly take care of themselves. It serves as a “north star” guiding the decisions made at every level – including how people are recruited, hired, trained, retained, promoted, and rewarded.

Whether it’s a global footwear brand (e.g., Tom’s One For One initiative), a regional moving company (e.g., Meathead Movers and offering free services for domestic abuse victims), or creating compelling brand experiences like Inspira (and our support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation), it’s important to create an environment where our people not only feel safe, grounded, and motivated for their efforts are not only recognized, but it is truly meaningful.

SOURCE: LinkedIn | Bob Petrosino

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