Culture and the Value of a Manager

Culture and the Value of a Manager

As the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Talent Plus, I took note of the recent article in the New York Time entitled, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace.” I have watched this story closely, finding interesting perceptions from the employees and leadership. I believe in both of them.

I believe in Jeff Bezos because this talks about the culture he dreams about and aspires to every day. His intentions and values are right and centered on creating a memorable experience for the customer and the employee.

I believe the 100 employees surveyed that they received unfair treatment. They probably did – as to treat people fairly is to treat them individually because each person has different needs and wants.

What I do know is the company has grown to remarkable levels. Jeff Bezos cannot be in every employee interaction. If anything we could fault him on not selecting and retaining the best supervisors, managers and leaders to carry out his vision of creating a great place to work. Isn’t that what every employee wants – a great boss? Someone to mentor, develop and invest in them. To believe in them before they know they are ready for the next opportunity. It is the “value of the manager.” No matter how much one company does for each employee it will come down to the relationship between the employee and their manager. Their manager becomes “Amazon” – not the great marketing, brand awareness, revenue growth, innovation, etc. At the end of the day it’s about their manager.

I feel the pain of every CEO out there – you dream BIG. You dream of building a great company – one that is legendary and iconic and one that leaves a footprint in the heart, soul and mind of every employee. Visionary leaders dream that each person that works for us is better – is a better employee, friend, significant other, brother, sister and community member. Isn’t that what people will remember? What keeps us CEOs up at night is the leaders that we surround ourselves with are an extension of us. It causes us all concern when we hear and watch the behavior of managers and know that is not what we dreamed of.

There will be no greater decision that we make as CEOs than the selection of the leadership and management team that build our culture. So often we leave this to chance. We have an instinctive feeling when we meet someone or see them perform in another setting, or they come as a referral from someone and we think that same performance will easily transfer to our culture. But what if they don’t? Or what if our instinct is off?

CEOs make million dollar decisions each day about their product and service lines, technology, marketing and global growth strategies, but what is so often overlooked is the people who will be executing those decisions. People ultimately drive results, and you want to surround yourselves with people, especially managers, who represent what you believe to be the culture and who will execute with excellence the strategies you put into place every day, naturally without thinking about it.

In my world, what gets measured gets done. When you take the time to invest in selecting the right people from the very beginning, then no matter how big the company grows and no matter the economic trends that ebb and flow, you continue to make wise decisions for the company and each employee. When you scientifically select managers with great natural skills to execute your plan, they will do the right thing every time – for your employees and your business. And, when you build science into that equation, you can actually measure someone’s potential to perform with excellence so that the company you dream of and believe you’re building is exactly the company your employees experience.

Kimberly Rath
Co-Founder and Co-Chairman
krath@talentplus.com