Treat Employees as Investors

by Ron Potter

It is interesting to watch privately held companies that seek to go public. They hire IPO (Initial Public Offerings) coaches who work hard with the CEO, CFO, and COO to train them to attract investors. They work with these leaders to help them say the right things in order to sell their companies. They teach them which messages work and which do not.

My question:

“Why don’t companies do the same thing with employees?”

If you do a quick study on employee relations over the last several decades, we think you will discover that how employees are viewed and described has moved along a continuum from workers to commodities to assets. We do not believe that referring to employees as “assets” is a satisfactory description because so many leaders look at assets as disposable or upgradable. Leaders and companies would be more successful in building organizations if they thought of their employees as “investors.”

Leaders need to give their people the same compelling we’re-a-great-company-and-here’s-why-and-where-we-are-going reasons for success that are promoted to IPO investors or current stockholders.

Leaders need to ask:

“How can we get employees excited about what we are doing?”

This approach is basic to team building and goes beyond vision and mission. It’s a way to engage the greatest resource of people—their energy!

Alan Loy McGinnis, in his book Bringing Out the Best in People, tells us, “Talk may be cheap, but the right use of words can generate in your followers a commodity impossible to buy…hearts on fire.”

Isn’t that what all leaders want—team members with hearts ablaze for the company’s vision and goals? The leaders certainly want investors who are loyal, happy, and motivated to give resources. Treating your employees as investors will produce similar results.

Leaders and companies would be more successful in building organizations if they thought of employees as “investors.”

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