People power

Every day in business, we face the challenge of determining what value we place on people. Our employees have become nothing more than a means to an end, in many cases. What end? Money — pure capitalism at its best.

As business leaders, we are forced to make decisions that are not always best for the people around us. With technology, competition and the economy, it is a safe bet we’ll continue to face staffing pressures. The question is, how far will we go in putting us first and others last? If it’s true that what comes around goes around, does this eventually come full circle and affect us the same we may be affecting others?

The answer is simple — people are more important than profit. We must take responsibility for our actions. In our society, no one wants to take responsibility for their actions. It is always the other person’s fault. But it is never too late to start putting people first.

Here are four steps to keep in mind the next time you are confronted with this situation.

* Don’t look at people as just a line item on a budget. Each person provides value with different gifts and talents. Any one of them might hold the answer to the problems that have been holding your business back.

* Remember the Golden Rule. Many people think it is the gold that rules, but people make money, money does not make people. The strength of your people will propel your company forward, and the money will follow.

* Go beyond your confort zone to help people. Take the extra step to help your employees get through the difficulties that life can present. It will always pay off in the long run.

* Treat people the way you want to be treated. Don’t talk down, be short or treat people like a commodity. Treat each employee like an executive, and he or she will start acting like one, taking ownership of the company.

Economic pressures always keep us focused on the bottom line, but behind the numbers lie people. Taking care of your people, no matter what the short-term cost, will ultimately help you succeed in the long-term.

Business is about making money, but people are the real engine that drives success. Take care of your people, and the money will naturally follow.