Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Companies

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” - Charles Dickens

Recently I had a very interesting experience when visiting two companies. Both companies were of similar size, in similar industries, with similar revenues, but different levels of profitability.

When I walked in the door at the first company I was met by a smiling receptionist who asked my name, and who I was there to see. She called back to confirm my appointment and then offered me something to drink while I waited. She continued working while talking with me and answering the phone.

“Are you here for a job interview?” she asked.

“No” I replied. “Are you hiring?”

“I think in some ways we always are” she replied. “We don’t post our job openings any place, but we always seem to have new people here. I think they are always looking for the right people.”

All this time she was completing paperwork at her desk, talking with me, and answering the phone with a smile in her voice.

A few minutes later my appointment came out to greet me and we headed back to her office. The walls of the office were adorned with group photos of the employees in their various endeavors. Some were clearly work related, celebrating the launch of a new product or service. Some were of the groups at play outside of the office.

Later, during a break in my meetings, I bumped into a technical employee who looked like he had been having a very rough day.

“I’ve been here since 2AM” he told me. “I got paged in for a technical issue and have been working it ever since.”

“Does this happen a lot?” I asked.

“It happens” he replied. “I don’t mind. It’s what I do.”

He went on to tell me how much he liked his job, liked the company he was working for, and how calling him in made him feel “special” because he felt needed. Was he getting paid extra for coming in at 2AM? Nope. But he didn’t give that much thought. He liked what he was doing and where he was working and that was what was important to him.

A few weeks later I walked into the other company. At the receptionist desk it was clear that I was bothering the young lady who was trying to read her magazine.

“Sit” she said, and I complied.

I tied to make small talk by asking her how she liked her job.

“No one likes their job” was her response. “I get paid to be here.”

Looking around the office area you could not help but notice the sparseness. Lots of cubes; some occupied, others not. The walls were either bare or they had those silly, framed motivational posters.

“Soar like an eagle” one said. Another one extolled the positive aspects of teamwork.

Once again, I found myself with the opportunity to chat with a couple of the employees. They weren’t very talkative and didn’t have much to say. They were watching the clock, anxious for 5PM to arrive so they could leave.

I asked one employee how long they had been working their. He replied with an expletive.

“Why are you still here?” I asked him.

“It’s a job” was the reply.

I had other conversations with people at both of these companies, but the pattern was very consistent. At the first company the employees were happy and engaged. Being there was more than just work for them, it was part of who they were. They didn’t look for or ask for special privileges or extra pay. Instead they looked at each day as a chance to be with their friends and do things that they liked and enjoyed. They didn’t have jobs. Instead, they were part of something bigger.

At the second company, the people I met did as little as possible, as seldom as possible. They viewed each day as another day in their life that they would never get back. By doing as little work as possible, they hoped to stretch out their jobs as long as they could so they would keep getting paid. I actually heard them use the word “peons” when talking about their role in the company. The people they worked with were not their friends and they couldn’t wait for the day to end so they could leave.


The first company, probably due to the high level of employee dedication and engagement, was profitable and moving forward. Not surprising, the second company was struggling every day with profitability declining.

As an employee, or as a CEO, ask yourself this question.

Which company would you rather work for?

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

No comments:

Post a Comment