It’s not business, it’s personal
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” Dr. Suess (1904-1991)
We have all heard the saying “It’s not personal, it’s business”. We hear that statement and it rings true. It sounds very logical. Business is just a transaction, it’s an exchange between two entities – that insurance policy doesn’t really care about me, or that loaf of bread – emotions are not involved, it’s just business.
But it’s a lie. Everything we do in life is personal. Without the personal, we are just drones, automatons and robots. Without you and me, there is no business. I don’t care how the transaction happens, there are going to be people behind it. Here are four things to keep in mind in making our business world more personal.
Customers are people
What an obvious statement, right. But how many times do we get caught up in the “numbers” and forget what’s behind them. I have been guilty of creating business plans or marketing plans or revenue projects that completely strip out the personal and look at “markets” or “niches”. How many of this or that will one group purchase, what is the cost to delivery, how much profit is possible. In my case, the numbers were so big, it was easy to lose sight of the individual and only see the group.
It’s not feasible to create plans down to the individual and truly, within our planning cycles, we don’t have enough time. What we can do? Get out there among our customers and talk with them. Put a face to the faceless masses. Get out of the office or from behind the computer screen and have real interaction with real people. Re-establish your connection, we all had one in the beginning, allow yourself time to get it back.
Employees are People
As managers and leaders, it can be easy to feel as if the people working for you are just “doing it for the paycheck”. Or in very large organizations, they are just numbers on a spreadsheet to be adjusted up or down depending on the current economic conditions. Employees are not numbers, they are not resources, they are not an expense. They are people with lives outside of work, with hopes, dreams and desires.
As Leaders, it is our responsibility to inspire. If your employees have a paycheck mentality, then you are the one that created it. If your employees walk into work, dragging their feet, shoulders slumped, acting defeated before they even come through the door, it is a reflection of the leadership, not of them. That is not the natural state of people – and it is not the natural state of healthy companies. Before you start blaming the “workforce”, take a hard look at yourself and the leadership team of the company. Your employees are a mirror of the people that lead them.
Leaders are People
Sometimes, it’s difficult to see an iconic figure as a person. They are bigger than life, they represent the power of will and determination we seek to emulate. In business, we see names such as Richard Branson, Steven Jobs, Jack Welch and we put them on pedestals. We rise them up above the rest of us. We laud the special things they have done, how they have created, built, propelled us forward and inspired us.
It is important for each of us to have people we would like to model our lives after and emulate. Just don’t forget they are people with every range of emotion, with fears, weaknesses, hopes, dreams and desires. They have things they like and dislike. They have people that love them, and people they have disappointed. It’s good to have heroes, just don’t make them super-heroes.
You are Special
There is no one exactly like you. If you are given a job, no one will do it exactly like you. If you have an idea, it is your idea. We are all unique and special. One of the keys to living a happy and fulfilled life is allowing yourself to be taught and to learn, but never lose that uniqueness of self. We are part of both large and small groups of people. We are categorized, sorted, sifted, filtered, tracked and analyzed. We are data points in an almost infinite number of databases. What is not in that data is who you really are, and who you will become. It is our responsibility to keep our uniqueness, to recognize how special we are and never allow that to whither away die.
I am both ME and WE.
Business is personal. It is my ideas that drive companies forward. It is my efforts at work that make the products and services successful. It is my leadership that inspires others to keep moving towards the goal. It is my purchasing decisions that make or break companies. Without me, nothing happens.