JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon wrote a personal letter to his shareholders, noting...
"Times like these reinforce that our employees are our most important asset - they are fundamental to the vibrancy and success of our company. Excellence in everything we do - from operations and technology to service and reputation - depends upon the abilities and character of our employees."
So true. And yet how many leaders and companies actually operate based on this thinking? It’s been a shock to the country that the lowest paid, most compromised workers are actually the most essential – the store clerks who stock the shelves and cash us out, the delivery folks who bring us food so we can stay home, the cleaning crew at the hospitals, the teachers who care for our kids more hours a day than we do, the bank employee who fills the ATM. We are dependent on all these employees and workers for our quality of life, the life of our children and in some cases, our survival. Yet we don’t treat these “essential” employees as if they are essential with pay, healthcare, benefits and support. If they were tech workers, they would have onsite child care, provided meals, laundry services, phone and computer support, and so much more.
In times like these, the truth of a situation often becomes visible. It is laid bare by the crisis and shows us exactly where we have not been walking our talk. If you are one of the leaders who has said “Our employees are our most valuable asset”, now is the time to check if you are treating them as such. It’s easy to make this statement. It’s much harder to actually make it true.
- “Am I treating my team as if they are the most important asset of the company?”
- “Do my employees know that they are the most valuable asset of the company by the way they are treated?”
- “What am I holding as most important?” “
- “What needs to change so that my words and actions are in alignment?”
Jamie Dimon is considered one of the best CEO’s of our time. My guess is that he is walking this talk. 20 years ago when the coaching industry was just emerging, I was already teaching Coaching Skills for Managers at his company. We went on to teach the same coaching skills to front line customer support folks as well. Why spend money on this? Because when the company really does treat employees as their most valuable asset, that alignment is visible to customers. If you are treated well, you naturally treat others well. And that directly impacts business success.