Vanessa wrote a great blog recently entitled "Ask Not What Your Company can do for You – Ask What You can do for Your Company" I thought this was a great blog and it prompted me to put together some similar thoughts I had recently while dealing with some employee issues. As a department head I constantly get bombarded for every request and issue imaginable, everything from why a certain food item is not in the kitchen, to schedules and work quality, interdepartmental communication, even the dreaded last roll of toilet paper panic attack. To top that all off, it also comes from employees that aren’t even in my department. Honestly I don't really mind dealing with most of these issues because I enjoy helping people and want to see both them and the business succeed. The terms "the business" or "the company" can be real stumbling blocks for people depending on the size of the company and the organization structure, because I don’t think that some understand that they are a part of what makes “the company”. I think sayings like "Is this Good for the Company?" from the movie Office Space are both funny, cliché and, for small businesses, oh so true.
At the Gordian Project we only have a handful of departments and just enough employees to support each department, except for the 3 managing partners, no one else has ownership of the company; but, because of our company's small size, relationship and organization everyone is "the company". Let me explain, we are not some gigantic company, with hundreds of offices, thousands of employees and an endless management structure. If that were the case "the company" would mean something entirely different (depending on your position I suppose) and that's something that personally I did not want in a career. At the Gordian Project I can honestly say that I am part of and have ownership in "the company". I and every other employee play a huge role, regardless of title, in how the company operates and or how successful or unsuccessful it is. As much as I believe in our managing partners, they can't do everything and the success of the company is not hinged upon their every decision. Success will only come with all of us working together, following our goals and objectives and caring about "the company". I know that my decisions, success and compensation as an individual are closely tied to that of the company. While I may not technically own part of the company, because of how the owners have set things up and decided to run their business I feel as though I do. I know that they fairly and realistically divvy out compensation, and their overall goals are for both all of their employees and the company to succeed. What this also means is that most of my decisions also effect more than just me or my department, they affect "the company" which at this point is everyone. Like I mentioned above, I think this is a hard concept for some people to grasp. They continue their attitude from past jobs of not liking to work for "the man", or that we are some huge faceless corporation which does not care, and should meet some unrealistic expectations. Having employees with those attitudes in a small business can be both unproductive and destructive.
This is where I have to side with Vanessa wholeheartedly (and be excited that she is part of my department). At some point depending on what "the company" means to you, many of those entitlements could melt away and or have another level of meaningfulness so that, hopefully, the larger company objectives and goals can be focused on. If you truly care, at least about your own well being and/or that of your coworkers, then perhaps it's time to understand what "the company" means to you, and act accordingly.