People vs Profit who is the winner?
A paradigm shift from choosing profits at the expense of people to creating both profits and an engaged and inspiring work culture is required for a sustainable business future. OKR frameworks are excellent catalysts for managing this paradigm shift.
Some companies’ sole objective is profit. This mindset exists at the expense of people and not for the benefit of people. On the other hand, it requires only basic logic to understand that without decent and sustained profits your ability to hire more people and to improve your current workforce’s working experience and lives are severely compromised.
People vs Profit – A balanced approach.
It is after all people executing their skills that generate profits. Therefore the debate should be renamed from People vs Profit to People and Profits in order to shift the focus from choosing one at the expense of the other to the integration of both elements for the greater good of all concerned.
Profound positives arise from the paradigm shift from believing that you have to choose one over the other to understanding that profits, fulfilling careers, and ventures can be an integrated and sustainable experience.
People and Profit – Pragmatism
Talking and dreaming about this ‘utopia’ of a business where all are engaged, happy, fairly paid and the company is experiencing tremendous and sustainable growth is very easy. Making this dream a reality is another matter.
We have to consider inclusivity, diversity, career paths, mental well-being, environmental impact, safety, and more within the context of capital mechanisms, legal frameworks, external market forces, and the volatile global environment.
It is simply normal to feel a sense of overwhelm when contemplating all of the above.
People and profit – An ecosystem
The people and profit paradigm that we are exploring is an integrated ecosystem. Some leaders see ‘one puzzle piece as the puzzle’ and believe, for example, that business is only about sales at high margins or voluminous sales at low margins.
Putting tremendous effort into hiring the right people (people with integrity, the right attitude, etc), creating a culture within which your team/s can thrive, embracing useful change initiatives, servant leadership, fostering collaboration and a shared value system, providing supportive coaching, product/service excellence, strategy and execution are to name just a few, part of this ecosystem. A key learning gained from the OKR Institutes’ courses is how to build an ecosystem as a context for sustainable business performance:
People and profits – Objectives and Key results
OKRs provide an excellent framework to provide future direction for both the creation of this ecosystem and the sustainability thereof.
You can simultaneously entertain objectives and key results that boost employee engagement and profits. Your practical value system can act as an effective filter to assess the quality of all actions taken and to ensure the alignment of action to your culture.
Your company vision and purpose (meaning and impact) can potentially both be inspiring and catalysts for the generation of profit.
An objective might be to grow your customer base, in support an example of a key result might be to increase paid users from 200 000 to 800 000. When this is achieved nett profits will increase.
When this OKR example is deployed within a positive culture where collaboration is fostered, people are cared for and coached, shared values are embedded and team members are inspired by an exciting future vision underpinned by a sincere purpose, success will not happen at the expense of people, it will happen as a result of people and for people.
Simultaneously another Objective within an OKR framework that might be deployed within the same company that is more people orientated is to improve the onboarding experience of new hires. Making the onboarding experience inspirational, and effective in terms of coaching and support can assist in creating a motivated workforce that ultimately produces more profit.
The above proves that even a more ‘profit orientated’ objective can be tempered by and integrated with a ‘people orientated’ culture and that a people orientation and a profit orientation are not mutually exclusive.
Read this thought-provoking Harvard business review article on the ‘ surprising economics of a people business.’: