My company changed quite a bit since I started there 13 years ago. It was a family driven company and the owner lived and breathed the values. Sure the company was making a profit. It didn’t aim for a loss. But it didn’t aim for the stars it had the feeling of doing the right things. I remember a story one of our engineers told me years ago:
Angus got the information that our local competitor had a major problem with one installation. They could figure out a particular problem. He talked to his engineering manager and asked to get his best engineer ready to fly out and help the competitor solving the issue. Then he rang the competitor and let them know who he was sending.
He wasn’t jumping on a weakness and score a new client. He wasn’t even invoicing the competitor for the assistance. For him it was the right thing to do helping somebody out.
The company is still successful, it’s financially even more successful now then it has been then. But it has changed. The current focus is on winning deals and delivering on promises. It is hard for me to put it into the right words but the company is not special anymore. The feel of belonging is gone the emphasis on performance has taken over.
In a time where many organisations struggle and people are generally happy to have stable employment such a successful company is rare. We must be doing something right. One major change is our marketing strategy “devoted to your cause”.
Devotion is a powerful word. For me it means to fully submit myself to a particular thing. I don’t feel my devotion being a generalised item that can be used to close a deal. Maybe I see this wrong and I have to ask:
Is there something like an organisational devotion?
Can an organisation devote itself to any customer’s cause?
I doubt that. Devotion is specific and personal.
“Remember what I said about finding a meaningful life?:
- Devote yourself to loving others
- Devote yourself to your community around you and
- Devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning”
That type of devotion resonates strongly with me. It has purpose and meaning. It has relevancy to me and to those who are close to me.
The change in the organisation has been subtle.
Old values included “for the employees, for the community, for the country” – new values are “commitment to listen, courage to act, and integrity to deliver what we promise”.
These are very powerful values and I whole heartily put my name to them. Although, they miss the personal touch or the “higher purpose” as my wife would put it.
Would the company come to the rescue as it did 10 years ago? Yes, when asked, I don’t doubt it. I fear, the inner drive to do so because we can and want to help is missing.
One of the newer engineers asked late last year: Do you think there is a rift between those who work here for a long time and those who started more recently?
I answered, “Do you have a feeling of belonging to this organisation?”
“No, he said, why should I?”
That’s the difference that sums it up.