popeA very interesting post titled, “What Starbucks can learn from Pope Francis,” by Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Professor at Stanford Business school (disclosure: Professor Pfeffer helped me with my doctoral dissertation) is about the contrast between the Pope’s espoused values and much of corporate America’s espoused values. The gist of the article is that the Pope is calling for better treatment of people and, while many corporations say they value employees, they too often drop this when financial issues press them.   While I do find the contrast with the Pope to be problematic since he has not actually changed church doctrine in many key areas so he is not really living his espoused values either, the real issue is the argument for corporations living people-focused, articulated values.   Professor Pfeffer points out that most organizations talk about the value of their people. He also makes a strong argument for the economic value of being people-focused and the economic downside of not being people-focused. This rationale very much aligns with our experience over the years as we’ve worked with various organizations.   We often find that the many organizations that speak about the importance of their people reject any program that treats their people better or takes the time to develop them. Unfortunately, the reality is that most executives do not make the connection between developing their employees and sacrificing minimal short-term financial gain for long-term prosperity.   To be more extreme, our experience is that most executives don’t actually care about their employees, though they would never explicitly say this. For example, we were recently working with an organization that had 40 percent turnover, meaning the team was very unhappy. However, the organization made its numbers, so there was zero incentive for leadership to make it a more desirable place to work. Numbers were important; people were not important.   In another organization, the leadership preached about how they were a great “family.” Ironically, they were very vocal about cutting back hours to avoid having to provide healthcare. Not much of a family if the organization wasn’t going to support people’s health.   Most executives are paid very well but don’t like rocking the boat and are rarely held accountable for the long-term performance of their organization.   Even though the evidence for being more people centric is persuasive, I am pessimistic that most organizations will become more enlightened.   What do you think?]]>

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