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The Value Of Generosity In Business
Sean: You mentioned earlier some, I would say heavy words for a CEO or a founder – gratitude, love, right. So for me, now what I’m wondering about is what are the first few things, right? So you get a call, you have to audit the team, the organization, you have to ask them questions. What are the first few things you check into and you try to change when shifting an organization to become more compassionate?
Bruno: They were a few things. I can give you a few actionable tips. For example, if I’m visiting an organization as a consultant, or if I’m gathering with my staff as a lever, I should check a few things. First of all, the different needs of employees or if these people working for this company are satisfied.
First of all, we’ll have to identify their needs because we cannot develop a long-term relationship without knowing if their needs are satisfied. Some entrepreneurs tend to focus only on economic needs, which are very important, good salary, like bonuses, a holiday – paid holiday.
This is good, but it’s not enough. This will be the basic starting point, but there are other needs that are important, as you mentioned, gratitude, gratefulness. When you appreciate people, you are not only being thankful, but the communion over precision is increasing the value – when something appreciates, it increases the value.
So where the currency occurs, it appreciates and is increasing the value. So the idea is that the same applies to people. So when you appreciate, you have to appreciate, in some cases using what we call a very simple way to appreciate. For example, organizing an event, when a big team has been working on a project and the project has been successful.
You can write a thank you note, you can sign.This could be a good gesture but also you can celebrate this much more publicly with a virtual meeting or a beautiful event, or a real event if possible with this situation. And giving these employees the recognition that they deserve because employees are not there only for the money.
Some CEOs believe that it’s only about economic aspects, but the employees want to feel that they are contributing in a meaningful way. And they’re making a very big contribution to a meaningful purpose. So when you recognize this employee in a very clear and explicit way, employees are more likely to go the extra mile. Because everyone wants to feel loved, from the wider perspective or the humanist perspective, it means being respected, cared, acknowledged, and appreciated.
I will also check when I’m going around this environment, on how generosity impacts in this type of environment. When I talk about generosity, some companies tell me “We want to obtain profit, we want to obtain customers, we want to have much more market share.” They’re all about getting and obtaining – the opposite of giving.
And I always tell them that this flow should be much more balanced. Obtaining is good, but also giving is like breathing in, breathing out. It’s a normal cycle of life and it’s also a normal cycle of business. So when you are only trying to obtain or getting, and you’re not giving anything in return, well, there will be imbalances.
So I asked them also, what are different ways that employees can contribute to one another in a generous way. We’re not talking about only material things that are important, in some cases we’re talking about non-material things. For example, employees can give their ear, when another employee has a problem. Or employees can give support, training or mentor other employees and coach other employees.
I always look for difficulties. Starting on the new employees that have difficulties to get engaged with the team, or to use some technology or system of this company. Can anyone help this employee? Can they work as a team? Can they work a less individualistic way, and much more cooperative ?A much more community oriented way.
This is important because when people are working in a much more collective way, you develop camaraderie, you develop loyalty, commitment, and companionship, which is very important because all employees are interdependent. And what we mentioned about Steven Covey in the beginning, employees are interdependent.
Most processes include the contribution from different teams, marketing team, a finance team, production team, and administrative team. So we need to work it all together and also help one another. So I will see that there is a cooperation that is fostered in this company. And if not, I will inquire even a few tips, how to be more generous, a very important question that CEOs and employees should ask themselves.
“How can I be more generous? Without expecting, without wanting anything in return. How can I help these individuals by my side, working around me so that I can contribute to them in a positive way.” Also, you can give advice. You can give some tips. You can also, in some cases in companies – stakeholders can be receiving some contact information or very important tips.
But in some cases companies also give material things, they give an employee a gift, or they give a bonus or they give customers for example – free samples. Giving is always important because again, according to the law of reciprocity, when you give, you create an imbalance. You are giving something without expecting anything in return.
And the other person gets indebted with you and they tend to respond in a positive way, they tend to give back. When you give your best to a customer, for example, you give the best advice you offer the best product for them. You give the best recommendation. These customers feel delighted, and they will tend to not only to come back, but they will feel compelled to give back.
They will possibly leave positive reviews online. will recommend this product to friends and family. This is very good. The customer becomes a silent or not so silent ambassador for your product without you paying them. Instead, when you treat the customer in a very mean way, and also not giving them as much as possible, this customer might feel that they have been deceived. Or they didn’t get enough information, or they have been misled and this customer will tend to be responding in a negative way.
They may tend to go to other companies, in some cases – if they’re not comfortable they might leave negative reviews online. They won’t recommend your products to friends and family. So very important, generosity is important and thankfulness is very important. And also I have observed in the business environment, I talk about it a lot in the book. Playfulness – is the work environment too rigid? Is it only focused on goals? Is it only focused on budget? Cost? Is it only focused on business topics? Do they have time? For example, do people have time to have coffee or a tea during the break and chat about life and know each other on a personal level?
Are there any social events? I saw some companies that are really successful, that they have social events once a week. At the end of the week, let’s say Friday, they have an event, a virtual event where people celebrate the comment about their personal achievement, not the business achievement. They comment about their kids.
They comment about their family. They comment about their pastimes. Very good because we’re seeing the whole human being. We’re not a role, that is a very limited view of the person. We are human beings. We have family, friends. We also have some pastime, hobbies, and preferences. We watch movies and so on and listen to music.
This is part of our life. And you don’t leave this outside the company when you enter the company. All these emotional aspects, preferences, expectations, dreams are so important for the individual, and for the company itself.
Sean: That is something that I am super glad to hear. Not a lot of companies recognize this.
And so what you’re saying, these principles are super important, especially in the pandemic today. So I would have to ask you – my next question would be, how many companies have reached out to you during the pandemic? Did it increase or did it decrease because they’re also having a difficult time, budgets, et cetera?
Or did they recognize that “Oh, this is what I need. I need this in my company right now because the world is in chaos. My people, their lives are wrecked and so on.” Did more people come to you for help?
Bruno: They came, yes. I saw an increased number of clients over the time during the pandemic.
Many companies that could be more compassionate, tend to act by default – based on fear. And when you’re acting based on fear, you cannot act based on compassion. A philosopher, scientist and a spiritual thinker observed that fear and love, they are opposite forces. You cannot be fearful and loving at the same time. You cannot be grateful and fearful at the same time.
So you cannot be compassionate and fearful. So in practice, I observed that some companies, especially big companies tend to adopt the default mode of freeze fight flight mode. This means they tend to respond, in a very negative way because they are driven by fear. They want to be sure that they come to a minimum level of profit.
In some cases they try to act in a non-compassionate way, they fire employees. They don’t care about their security, but also you can observe that some companies, some new companies that are much more open-minded. And then they understand that even during the pandemic, that it is a very challenging time – can be compassionate because you need people to pull through these challenging times to succeed. To be much more creative, because here we have to be creative and flexible during the pandemic. New challenges, and new ways to view business. And if you are fearful and you are threatening people and you are threatening their job security, then you are trying to take advantage of customers.
This not only will sink you deeper into difficulties, but also might make this company disappear completely. So there are two types of companies, what I have observed, there are companies that are polarized. Some companies that are acting in a compassionate way because they understand that caring for people is very good. Because these difficulties sooner or later will be left behind.
And we need to rely on these people that are helping us. During good times, but also during bad times during challenging times. And generally, companies are only focused on what we call the bottom line, not the triple bottom line, but the bottom line. They would say “Oh no, I cannot survive.” And also they have a very pessimistic view of the situation and they will say, “Oh, we have to focus on what can be counted. We don’t care so much for people. Why? Because we see that if we don’t care for what is important; profit – according to their view, we will be out of the market. And this is counter-intuitive because when you care for people, people will help you pull through in a much more successful way and insightful way. And people, when they’re not threatened, according to research, they tend to generate much more innovative ideas, much more creative ideas.
We need creativity. We need innovation. There are two chapters in the book about innovation. And this is so important because we need to generate new business models. We need to generate new ways of communicating to people and also to customers and other stakeholders. And these sooner or later, might go by and might be left behind by this pandemic. But in the meanwhile, we have to care for our most important resource that is people. People are the ones generating business ideas, people are the one that are generating new products and services. They don’t come out of the blue, out of the sky.
They come from people. People are the ones developing good business models. You see a company that is so creative. I always give a few examples of companies that are created. Companies that are so creative, like Uber or Airbnb, they’re a company that generated their business models on innovative ideas.
None of the companies have a very important amount of resources. In the case of Airbnb, they don’t own any property. Why? Because obviously this is a network or obviously an accommodation sector to provide the services to guests. But this is a very innovative idea. And this came from people in the case of Uber, where they don’t own vehicles.
And in practice, obviously we have one of the biggest networks regarding the transport sector. So we have to understand what we care for people. We’re caring also for ideas that are the starting point of any business project. But also when we care for people they are the one that are supporting our customer, they are the ones that are related to our employees, related to suppliers or providers in a very positive way.
And they are the ones that are generating value. That is a concept in business. The value chain, every single individual could add value or could reduce value. When people feel cared for, when people feel supported, they tend to add value. When people feel threatened, where people feel like they’re dismmed and despised, people tend to reduce value.
Because people are the generator of value, the contributor of value.
Sean: You know, what I like about what you keep saying is that people are important. You have to take care of your people. You have to put them first up and above your business. I’m going to reiterate what you said about business being competitive. Using terms like strategy, tactics, war terms, but instead what we need to be is more co-operative, I love it.
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