One of the great struggles we face in a capitalist society is that between employees and owners. I am well aware of it even in my small business. Perhaps the greatest distinction is the level of responsibility that each is party willing to accept. Of course, when those responsibilities aren’t handled properly, they become risks. For the business owner, the greatest risk of all is not taking one.
Dan Kennedy says there’s only one reason to become an owner — and that’s to become rich. Otherwise you might as well be an employee. In all of the surveys I’ve seen about employees, their main concern is getting paid. The difference is their financial motivation diminishes considerably once they get paid a “fair day’s wage.” Therein lies the major distinction. Owners want a “fat” paycheck, while employees want a fair one. As a result, owners are willing to take on more risk and more responsibility than employees.
When it comes to many executives at public corporations, the story gets skewered a bit since the true owners are the shareholders. These business tycoons forgot the rule that you can’t get rich without adding value (a principle that every private entrepreneur knows firsthand). In a sense, those on Wall St. were allowed to get “rich” the wrong way. That’s not capitalism, that’s stealing.
Now that fear is back big time, we’ll see how different folks cope. Most owners will probably start tightening the belt of control. Any room for sloppiness or delay will be eliminated. They’ll look at every employee and ask a very simple question: Does this person make me money or not; and, is that money worth any drama they cause me? What employees need now is brutal honesty. A savvy owner will open up the books and let them know exactly what the story is. Good employees will find comfort in knowing that the poor ones are about to be shipped out —finally. At the same time, employees should be concerned. If they’re not working hard, helping to create a profit, they too can expect to find themselves unemployed.
The omnipresent “all employees are victims and all employers are villains” mentality subtly present in our workplace needs to be acknowledged and put to rest if we are to move forward and climb out of the hole we’ve dug. The fact is, most people on both sides share a common interest — financial security. Economic woes on this scale have a way of weeding out companies and people who can’t get their act together. Those driven by excellence, without destructive drama, enjoy a great opportunity to dominate their marketplace or workplace in a way that allows them to survive. Then, when the eventual turnaround does occur, you can watch your business or career explode.