Last night at a fundraiser, I was sitting next to a really terrific guy who spends his time similarly to me as an Executive Coach. When he described his career, he mentioned that he worked for General Mills in Human Resources. One day he realized that he had to put his suit coat on to walk down the hall for a meeting if he did not want to get any strange glances. It seemed to have been the culture. And he thought how wild that was. “This is not for me,” he said to himself.
Soon after, he decided to work for a small company, about 120 employees, in the suburbs. Down the hall from his cube was the OPMer’s (Owner President Manager) office. He then reflected how different it was coming to work and realizing that every dollar paid to him was one that the OPMer was not going to pay himself. This observation had not hit him in quite this way before. When he worked in the food business, it was a long distance between him and the shareholders – he felt like it was miles away. The idea of every dollar spent on his salary is a dollar that does not go to a shareholder (via dividend or retained earnings) was way too far removed. It was then that his career really began, because he wanted to keep delivering on the value returned to his OPMer. Do you understand your value proposition to your owner? Are you delivering a great return? If you’re the leader, do you think your organization understands this value trade off deeply?