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It’s not employer vs employee

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A prominent Australian property developer has been ridiculed – locally and internationally – over the past week for his comments pointing to a lazy and arrogant workforce.

Workers and modern leaders alike will find much to dislike about his views.

They weren’t just thoughtless. They were dumb.

His comments mirror a belief that many managers still hold. That it’s employee vs employer. That it’s a zero sum game. Where employees winning means employers losing. And vice-versa.

Sadly, this is one of the core beliefs of archaic management.

But we don’t need to see it this way. Instead, as modern leaders, we can – and should – see it as a positive-sum game.

Because the success of the organisation and the individual are tied to one another over the long term.

Organisations can’t excel sustainably if they don’t provide the working conditions that attract, retain and engage the best workers.

And people can’t have great working conditions over the long term, if the organisation can’t satisfy its other stakeholders (including, amongst others, investors).

Trade offs will often demand smart management judgement in the short term. But a positive-sum mentality will pay off for everyone in the long term.

Especially the organisation…

First, you’ll cultivate a more engaged workforce. And – the more engaged your workforce – the more productive it will be. Highly engaged people are three times more productive than those that are dissatisfied.

Second, you’ll become more competitive in the labour market, especially when it’s tight. Organisations known as a place where people want to work hard, do meaningful work and share in the rewards will attract and retain the best talent.

I don’t know much about this property developer’s company. But I know enough to know that I never want to work there.