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In a Good Organization, There is no "Them"

In a Good Organization, There is no "Them"

Business Leader Magazine (March 2008)

June 16, 2008

In a viable organization, there is no “them.” Everyone in the organization is a part of “us,” and should be treated accordingly. If a clerical worker knows something that might help the CEO make better decisions for the company, the CEO wants to know about it. If the person who empties the wastebaskets spots a problem the vice president for marketing ought to know about, the vice president for marketing wants to know about it. There should be no royalty in a company, and there should be no peasants.

In some places, salaried professionals look down their noses at hourly employees. They fail to recognize the levels of skill, intelligence and diligence required to perform the basic tasks that keep us in business. Professionals who take this attitude are closing their eyes and ears to a fertile source of excellent ideas.

The people who know most about what customers want are the people who are in daily contact with the customers. The people who know best how to operate our equipment are the people who operate it daily. When management fails to recognize the value and merit of these people, it’s not the employees who are inferior — it’s the management.

So it’s important that the people at the top of the corporate chart learn to listen to those in the lower echelons. It’s also important that the people in the lower levels receive feedback from the top.

Constructive Feedback Needed

Employees need to know how well they are doing and in what areas they need to improve. The ability to offer constructive feedback is essential for managers, supervisors and team members in quality-oriented participative management. Effective feedback takes into consideration the environment in which an individual is working and how the individual’s job relates to the team and to the corporate mission. It lets employees know what they are doing right and what changes they need to make to enhance their effectiveness.

Corporations that give managers and supervisors responsibility for evaluating and appraising employees without teaching them how to coach and counsel will get the kind of quality you get when you turn a bull loose in a china shop.When employees feel free to share their ideas — and their complaints — with managers and supervisors, and when managers and supervisors skillfully share corporate thinking with those who report to them, the lines between “us” and “them” begin to fade. You no longer have an organization of competing interests, but a boundaryless corporation of which all stakeholders can feel that they are a part.

An internationally known speaker, consultant and author, Nido Qubein also is president of High Point University. He is Chairman of three companies, including Great Harvest Bread Company and Creative Services, Inc. (consulting). He serves on the Executive Committee and Board BB&T and on the corporate board of La-Z-Boy Corporation. He can be reached at or by visiting

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