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Why Business Is Evil

Via Forbes : The root of all evil in business is not greed; it is a simple oversight, a misunderstanding.

This evil is unleashed when organizations lose sight of a single fact. This fact is not a secret. It is not complicated.

Here’s the fact:

Business success revolves around human relationships.

You hire people you like, or at least trust. You buy cars, houses, clothes and jewelry to attract, impress or emulate people you like and respect. Sure, you may also choose a house because it has a big backyard and good schools, but few people deliberately move into a neighborhood filled with people they dislike.

Most professionals understand the importance of relationships, but this importance has been systematically eliminated from most public companies.

We’ve drifted into this fantasy that employees are no longer loyal, so companies need not be loyal either. Leaders love to talk about disruptive change, adaptability, nimbleness, change management and competitiveness. To be innovative, they feel the need to constantly reorganize and redesign. Employees get moved around like musical chairs.

I’ve watched countless B2B organizations rip clients away from account managers who serve them well, only to replace them with other people who don’t have a clue how to serve those clients. Why? Because misguided executives think reorganizing is more important than relationships. They lose sight of the value of human relationships, and in doing so they unleash evil within their organization.

Am I being overdramatic? Ask someone who has lived through this. When companies reorganize without sufficient regard for human relationships, employees feel vulnerable, confused and defensive. After all, their ability to provide for their family – and perhaps even their very self-worth – is at stake. They gossip, maneuver, and hold back information. They seek to grab credit, rather than share it. In fairness, they have little choice; it is survive or perish.

Let’s look at the example of mass layoffs. I despise hearing that a single company is laying off 1,000 or even 10,000 employees. It’s not just the human toll, which is awful. It’s the implication that the company didn’t have the time, inclination or intelligence to really look at each human relationship. Instead, they simply fired half of a division, or everyone who worked for them in a country.

This is true evil… the absolute failure to acknowledge the value of human relationships.

I am not referring to “human relationships” as a concept. I’m talking about all the human relationships connected to specific people. I’m talking, for example, about employee 12134, Rebecca Denathy, who worked closely with 23 people at her job, and who interacted with 331 people in total over the past year.

Yes, I just made up that name, but millions of people got fired or reassigned last year without sufficient regard for the human relationships involved.

Do I think people are entitled to lifetime jobs and regular raises regardless of their performance? NO.

Am I arguing that companies should coddle employees? NO.

I’m simply saying that human relationships matter more than anything else, and that smart leaders understand this. Smart junior employees understand this, too. So do smart sales professionals.

What I hope is that more smart CEOs, directors and investors will remember this.

Business slips into evil when numbers become more important than people, because when this happens, employees get crushed even when they do exactly the right thing.

You know what I’m saying is true. You are drawn to people you like, respect, and trust. Build this insight into the way you run your business. Resist attempts to turn business into an abstract game of numbers. Business is not a game; it is deadly serious and it enables all the people you know to survive and care for their families.

You live in a human society. Never forget that.

Bruce Kasanoff is a ghostwriter and speaker.

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