Remembering The Middle Child: Your Employees

Chetan Reddy

Congratulations! You now know that simplification is the key to optimizing your business. You’ve analyzed your spiderweb of organizational charts and want change.

Are you ready for the next step? Let’s take a do not forget your employeesmoment to identify what drives a simpler culture.

Believe it or not, the answer is rather simple. Think of your business as a family. The company is the oldest sibling. The customer is the youngest sibling, who is constantly doted on. And the commonly forgotten middle sibling? The employee.

In simpler cultures, companies act with the intent to create more value and engagement for everyone involved, especially the employee. In plain speak, an equal balance of these three drivers is characteristic of a simpler culture:

  1. Most value and engagement with least effort for employees
  2. Most value and engagement with least effort for customers
  3. Most value and engagement with least effort for the company

In most large scale companies, the middle child (the employee) is normally an afterthought when the needs of each these drivers are considered. The needs of the customer and company take precedence over workforce needs. This is even the case in the quest for simplicity.

Equal attention to the needs of all three stakeholders is, of course, the ideal balance. Ease of use and ease of effort need to be equally weighed. Doing so creates a simpler culture that strives to maximize organizational productivity while maximizing personal productivity.

Why does simplicity for every individual matter? As we transition deeper into servitization and the Digital Economy, each individual employee is gaining more and more power. They can harness new opportunities to create additional value for the business through revolutionary innovations.

On the other hand, they can also tear everything apart by introducing unintended problems through mistakes derived from complexity. Individuals must be able to make the right decision at the right moment and in the right way – every time.

Within simpler cultures, roles and expectations are clearly defined. Eileen McDargh, chief energy officer for The Resiliency Group, explains: “In a simpler culture, everyone must be able to answer: ‘This is why we’re in business, and this how I add value to why we’re in business.’ Role clarity is one of the biggest factors in simplicity.”

Studies have shown that trust, diversity, and innovation suffer when simplicity in employee behavior shrinks. In fact, the Interaction Associates/IDG report “Building Workplace Trust” shows that only 40% of people trust their bosses – presenting a huge gap that can potentially shrink when complexity is eliminated. Even more surprising, 65% of those aforementioned bosses are even engaged in their job, according to Gallup’s “State of the America Manager.” Talk about setting a good example!

Alarming, right? To discover how to measure your company’s simpler culture and the metrics that can help, download the e-book “Building Simpler Corporate Cultures.”

While you wait for the next and final blog that provide a checklist for creating a simpler culture, think about your employees. Think how you can increase value and engagement with the least amount of effort as possible.

Remember, the middle child is more important than you can ever imagine. Give your employees the attention they deserve.

This is the second of a three-part blog series on the Simplicity Culture Map, in partnership with Bill Jensen. Read Part 1 of the series,  “Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: A Simple Solution for Overcoming Complexity.


About Chetan Reddy

Chetan Reddy is a Duke sophomore studying Economics. He was a corporate marketing strategy intern during the Summer 2015.