Working With (Not Against) Others

  By Michael Neidle  |    Monday February 27, 2023

Category: Columns, Expert Advice, Productivity, Recruiting

Working on one’s own is easy if you are a hermit and living off the land. Having said this, it is interesting to see how many folks operate as if they are independent of others and don’t cooperate even when it’s their best interest, although this is the basis of most all human interaction in society and commerce. Most of us engaging in win-win scenarios with others and recognize that life is too short to not accommodate each other. Some people try a different route to achieve their aims and like to do battle each other literally or figuratively, figuring that like is a zero-sum game and want all of the everything for themselves.  

We have been seeing the latter approach playing out over the last 2 or 3 decades in the government who are not getting much done other than amplifying misplaced priorities, playing to the worst tendencies of  their constituencies, or just trying to infuriate the opposition. Here are two examples where people who know better have nevertheless worked at cross purposes against each other and their elected duties.

Playing brinksmanship over what was the perfunctory approving the National Debt limit. And if this is not approved will likely wreak havoc on not just the US economy, being the most reliable country to invest in, and in turning the  interconnected world’s financial system on its head. 

To win the chairmanship  of one of the 2 bodies in the Congress (The House), the leader of majority wing of that party ceded control to the minority wing. This will likely make the passage of any meaningful legislation all but impossible, as any legislation they may write will likely be rejected by the Senate and vetoed by the President. It is unfortunate that they will spend their time grandstanding to raise money instead of doing the job they were elected to do.  

In business, one normally strives to do a series of complex tasks, which are often challenging to do at the same time. Growing the company’s profits, increasing its market share, and improving its brand are hard to do. And there are different stakeholders in this process, including: a) employee to be kept happy and productive; b) customers to be served and valued, so they become loyal to the brand and buy your product/services; c) your managers; d) your stockholders. The trick is to work together for the best overall results. It is easy to fall into a trap of serving one group of stakeholder at the expense of the others. This would be bad strategy would eventually backfire. Examples might include: 1. Too lucrative incentive to senior management to increase the company’s profits at the expense of not investing in the company’s future, terminating productive employees or other ill-considered moves. 2. In turn increase ones stock price and/or dividends for a short-term EPS boost; 3. Providing your customers with too low a price for your product/services, free long-term services agreements, guarantees, upgrades, risky extended payment terms, etc.; 4. Maximizing profits for  benefit of management and shareholders by not following GAAP (or using too ”creative accounting” practices) , the tax code and state and federal regulation, or outright fraud.

So, the directive should be to balance the results to all those vested in the company’s success, and not to enrich only the managers and owner, but try to do the best by everyone, which admittedly a difficult chore and only a few can accomplish this. To visualize this type of mind-numbing complexity of this on steroids, see the Movie’s ”Everything, Everywhere, All at Once”.  The first two companies below are the top 2 in brand loyalty where all parts of the organization work together to achieve success.

Apple had received the highest ranking in brand loyalty because their customers feel valued. Their tech support is provided by highly competent professional who communicate and treated with respect from other techies and novices alike at no cost, in open and welcoming apple stores.  To be sure Apple products are not cheap, but one can find an iPhone at many price points and their fans remain loyal. This in turn has keep their stick price up over most any time period.

The second highest ranked company is Amazon. Although Amazon is a multifaceted company and gets 3/4rds of its profit from RWS, their cloud and web services division, the company consumer products of Amazon Prime for on-line shopping and streaming services are responsible for it famous brand name and ranking. Prime customers are loyal because it provides a wide selection of goods at favorable process with free shipping and returns and a friendly and helpful telephone support team that promptly handles all questions and problems. Many of their returns are quietly trashed as that the cheapest way to dispose of them.

When there is a monopoly, customer service is not a priority. PG&G a northern CA Utility was found guilty of malfeasance for not burying insulated high voltage power cables, while favoring the use of low cost, unshielded overhead cables which are exposed in storms and lightning in the forest. This resulted in huge wildfires a couple of years ago, the deaths of 86 people, and victims claims of $13.5 billion. Although senior executive did not forget to pay themselves handsome bonuses. PG&E was fined of $4.2 billion, with tens of billions of $, still being fought for by the victims.  

Given the above, consider what can you do to follow the best practices and working with others to this end.

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