Good business is powered by good business

My mother would consistently tell me of my great-grandfather while I was growing up and how he built his empire based on the honor and respect he earned from those around him.

From these lessons, I always found one to be extremely poignant and something my mind drifts to whenever I see unsavory characters in the startup scene.

My grandfather’s factory never had unions. These were hard jobs and, by no means, lucrative routes but my grandfather took care of those who worked for him and treated everyone in our hometown with so much generosity that no one could ever ask anything more of him.

One day a man moved into town and got a job at my family’s factory.  The man was accustomed to unions and a true progressive at heart, so he started going around the factory talking to the men about binding together to get a union established.

After that day’s work was completed some of the men took this man outside and beat him up.  They ended up coming to Great Grandpa Gill and told him the story and confessed their actions, but they said that they would never allow a union in this factory because anyone who tried would be attempting to hurt “Mr. Gill” and that was not allowed.

My great grandfather, of course, did not support these actions and for all I know, this could be a wild tale wound up through the tests of time.

A similar story stretches back to Nordstrom’s with one of the first branches when Mr. Nordstrom told his employees that the customer was always correct:

A customer came in one day with a set of tires, saying they had purchased these a few days prior but they tires just were not working in the way they had hoped and they would like a refund.  The cashier asked if they had a receipt, which of course they did not because Nordstrom’s does not sell tires, but then the cashier asked how much the tires were and issued a refund.

Stories and conversations stretch much deeper into the company culture of organizations than most people would expect. As my management professor would describe:

Company culture is much like an iceberg, the tip being what is said and believed to relate to company culture and the larger body under the water being the implications of actions, stories, and general beliefs

My grandfather always took care of people and whether or not these anecdotes prove true, I have heard dozens and dozens of elder people share these types of stories and zero speak to the contrary that I can understand the impact of his presence in these people’s lives.

Mr. Nordstrom instead of establishing a set of rules or regulations about customer service, he would institute a level of service in his worker’s minds’ through a hyperbole of none other.

When I speak with startups, visit offices, and watch various cultures, attitudes, and approaches speed past my eyes, I think of how differently people establish their ventures and how many problems down the road, start now.

Management professors, who love to label thing, often call this approach “Asking for A While Rewarding B”.

Early steps in a system of rewards may grow into monumental bounds into a cut-throat establishment. Eagerness to not step on employees toes leads to laziness and a culture without established expectations.

Maximizing profits at the sake of relationships results in a decrease in those conducting favors.

Ultimately, the only way to save yourself from the executioner is to ensure every conversation uttered by someone with a sword speaks nothing but words of respect.

How did you find that stories? Have you ever considered how much honor and respect is important in business culture? Let me know in the comments’ section below.

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