Sustaining Results: Balancing People, Values and Business

In the last few years several books have addressed why some companies are
more enduring than others. What distinguishes the great from the merely good?

Really great companies, even in bad times, place people and values first. The
obsession with stock prices has obscured our vision and caused companies to lose
their way. The current economic shake-up will cause them to find their way
again, or sink. The link between people and the bottom line is becoming clearer.

A focus on treating employees with warmth, dignity and respect pays off in how
customers are treated and consequently in how the business performs.

As Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines is fond of saying, “We put our employees
first, our customers second, and our shareholders third. In that order it works
and out of that order nothing works.”

As we continue into this new century with new uncertainties, companies will need
to draw on the full creative energy and talent of their people. Why should
people give full measure?

Confronted with an increasingly mobile society, cynicism about corporate life,
and an expanding entrepreneurial segment of the economy, companies need to have
a clear understanding of their people and values. They must make work meaningful
and thereby attract, motivate and retain outstanding people. There must be a
balance with people, values and business in order to create sustainable results.

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