Growing good citizens who contribute fully within society is perhaps one of the key goals of parenthood. Children who have been raised well realise that life doesn’t revolve around them – they treat others with dignity and respect, they attempt to fulfil their own respective callings and they assist others with the journey of life. These young people tend to come from a family context of discipline, accountability and structure – the care, love and sacrifices made by parents during the growing years have left indelible imprints upon character, self-image and self-awareness. They now embark on developing their own families and careers with a foundation that is steadfast and work hard at achieving a similar product, thus contributing fully to society as a whole. The original parental structure and care, discipline and love, responsibility and accountability has worked; though challenging, it has produced results of which one can be proud.
Business leadership is equally challenging – creating an environment of stability and structure to facilitate growth, responsibility and accountability in all who work in the company. In a similar way to parents who have devoted time, focus and energy to developing self-discipline and integrity in their children, managers need to be investing in relationship, structure and process to achieve character and reputation in the business, especially as this relates to both staff and client confidence. Employees and customers alike want to see exhibition of fairness, integrity, quality, consistency and quick response. The same, coupled with the value managers place on staff and the client, develop brand reputation and the company’s positioning within the market.
As exhibited by a fully-functional family, the following issues require managerial focus within a company:
- Care – Etsko Skuitema, during an interview process with 2 500 miners in the goldfields of South Africa, discovered that the key question in the minds of miners is: “Does my boss care for me?” Without the care need being met, employees feel insecure and neglected.
- Relationship quality – one of the many gifts that work is supposed to provide is the opportunity to relate meaningful with colleagues and clients. Relational dysfunctionality leads to frustration and the lowering of trust.
- Communication integrity – withholding valuable information unnecessarily or deficient communication practises cause insecurity and distance. Ongoing communication with employees and clients is necessary to grow intimacy.
- Role clarification – job descriptions and other expectations should be discussed to bring understanding and clarity to the contribution that should be forthcoming from the employees. Confusion in this area leads to aimless behaviour.
- Performance management – as in a family, a disciplined and accountability-structured environment should be developed to grow staff and provide a sense of security, fairness and consistency. As such, employees will have the confidence that performance-related issues will not be dealt with arbitrarily.
- Values commitment – company values should be adhered to religiously and modelled by all in leadership. No manager should ever compromise any of the company values.
- Development – both technical and soft skills needs should be accounted for to bring staff to maturity.
- Fun – the human being, in whatever context, needs to celebrate life. The company context or business environment is no different here and in fact, has many opportunities to enjoy success, recognise contribution and celebrate occasion.
As a fully-functional family provides structure and security for the effective development of children, so business should be creating an environment of accountability at all levels within the company where employees can flourish, feel secure and find their greatest contribution opportunities. Managers need to focus on employee engagement to make this a reality.