Have you ever wondered how Human-Centric Leading can expose intention vs action?
One of the projects we worked on was with an organization that prides itself on treating its employees. Leadership takes their needs first. Benefits provided were above average. Some of which were comfortable office settings, food provided, events to tend to their needs.
Our objective was to advise on ways to make the organizational culture more human-centric. While on the project, management has decided to move to new offices 20 miles from the current location. Out of curiosity we, the authors, setup a meeting with the CFO to better understand the reasons behind the move. We wanted to check if leadership measured the impact and or sought feedback from their employees.
The CFO reasoning was very financially sound. The cost per foot at the new location is extensively smaller than the one they are at now. They can sell their current location at a premium and make good profit while save on the new location. Sounds very logical and straightforward, doesn’t?
Well, yes if you are measuring it from the pure organizational financials only. The move is going to directly impact our work, since the office move might create negative impact on employees. We were concerned on the lack of alignment between the intentions and actions. We, therefore decided to raise our concerns.
Intention Vs Action
We were able to schedule a meeting with the CEO, CFO and COO. During the meeting we asked them the regular questions of how important are your employees… We got the typical answers, ‘they are our most important assets’…
Amazing, we then asked the CFO can you point out where in your balance sheet are your employees included. We used the reasoning as suggested by Anthony Howard in his book “Humanize”. The CFO, started laughing and suggested that assets is used in a pejorative way. The discussion that followed showed that employees were included as part of salaries under cost which is considered liabilities.
Following this we asked the COO about the location the bulk of their employees were living. The COO believes the move to the new location would impact the commute of most employees…
After few deliberations it turned out that a large % would have to commute for an extra 25-35 minutes each way. We then asked the CFO to calculate the additional time their employees will be spending (yearly) commuting. From that amount calculate the over a year using employee’s hourly rate (using total package).
During our follow up meeting the CFO presented the numbers to the team. The high value shocked both the CEO and COO. The CFO directly suggested that this cost is not the responsibility of the organization, which was totally true.
But what about the extra time taken for commuting. It must come at the expense of other commitments the employees have. Such commitments can be family, exercise, social activities… If these were your assets, by making the office move you are now further depleting them while you want those assets to continue delivering the same. The three C-level leaders started looking at each other baffled and wondering what to do. We, the authors, said this is your first lesson on your real transformation journey to become a human-centric leading organization.
Through this case we can observe the gap between the intention and action with respect to moving offices decision. Through the human-centric leading lens we added another dimension to the decision. Watch the our video on this topic. Review our human-centric leading approach.