People First?

We hear this term a lot—people are first at Brand X. However, high rates of turnover, low productivity, abysmal engagement rates all argue to the contrary. People can say what they will but the numbers don’t lie.

So, what does people first actually look like?

It starts with true belief. It’s not words on a plaque. If leadership doesn’t fully believe that people matter, that they are, frankly, more important than any other aspect of the business (including profits, growth, or market share) then it’s a charade.

It also focuses on success. This may seem contradictory to my previous point but it’s actually complementary. Solid people want to win. They don’t want to be given what they don’t deserve and they don’t want entitlements. True, there is an increasing number of takers in our society but even they, if treated with respect instead of “charitable disdain,” can be reclaimed.

People matter cultures focus on old fashioned virtues like honesty, integrity, transparency, and accountability. We aren’t asking for softness nor are we asking for tolerance of non-performance. People thrive in atmospheres of trust and dignity. People matter leaders work hard to create and nourish such environments.

Nice touches include unlimited PTO, generous and creative benefits, and other positive contributions. But don’t confuse these things with the real thing as outlined above.

So, does your company have a people first culture?

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