During the corporate downsizing that was rampant in the 1990s and 2000s, many employees adopted an attitude of “everyone out for themselves.” However, in his book Nice Companies Finish First, media guru Peter Shankman explains why the most successful leaders and organizations are emphasizing traits like loyalty and collaboration more than ever. Here’s what Peter had to tell Fast Track readers on the subject.
Alex: For many years, people have been saying that loyalty in the corporate world is dead. Why do you think this is NOT the case?
Peter: Loyalty is very much alive. More and more companies are realizing there's tremendous value in making a customer loyal. But it's not about pricing or sales. It's about treating them better than they'd expect to be treated in a similar situation with another company. Doing that promotes long-term loyalty and you can't buy that. And it’s the same with employees in organizations.
Alex: What benefits do you see in being loyal to an organization?
Peter: If I am loyal, the organization knows me as a human being. It is able to anticipate my needs and solve my problem before I know I have one. That’s a win.
Alex: Why is collaboration so important in today's workplace?
Peter: The concept of silo-ing is gone. No one works in a vacuum and expects to survive anymore. If PR can't talk to marketing which can't talk to advertising which can't talk to customer service which can't talk to the CEO, twenty-first century businesses can’t compete.
Alex: If a mid-level manager wanted to engender a culture of collaboration in his or her organization, what steps should he or she take?
Peter: Start by realizing that in the end, the CEO and the other top brass need to understand that this comes down to money. Companies that collaborate have a history of higher revenues than those that don't. When you make a business case that points to better ROI, they’ll listen.
Alex: Some leaders skimp on basic human decency in the name of immediate business concerns. Why do traits like loyalty and collaboration actually improve – rather than take away from – stakeholder value?
Peter: It's a mistake to think that goodness takes away from shareholder value. At the end of the day, the CEO needs to understand that nice companies truly DO finish first. And it's imperative to realize that any company that wants to succeed won't do so at the expense of their customers, employees, or even the environment.