A friend offered a comment on
last week's article
. He pointed out that the
purpose of a corporation is to maximize the stock price. In the case of a public corporation, or one that plans to go public, that's absolutely correct.
Stock price can be affected by many things, bottom line financial results among them. Political maneuvering can be another huge factor. An example of this is undertaking
"green" projects that are not financially viable. There are many other ways a company can play the PC game without improving results. That may well raise the stock price, at least for a while.
The largest corporations are all publicly held. They're the ones represented in the Business Roundtable (whose policy statement I referred to last week about benefiting
"stakeholders"), The interpretation of that statement can include the things mentioned above. Also some others which have questionable benefit to any individual. Does that detract from the credibility of the policy statement by the Business Roundtable? Probably - I'm sure it was carefully crafted to allow lots of "wiggle" room!
This newsletter (mostly) intends to address solid management and leadership practices rather than world-view issues such as PC maneuvering. Please look at what I wrote last week as applying to smaller, mostly privately-held, companies.
Their results do benefit legitimate individual stakeholders, all of whose interests should be considered in the company's policies.
With all that said, who's the most important stakeholder? I would argue that the customer has the most important effect on a company's performance. If the customer is happy, all's well. If the customer is upset, fix it in ways that more than make up for whatever mistake occurred. That can leave the customer even more loyal than if the mistake never occurred.
Who makes the customer happy, or addresses the customer's unhappiness? The employees - right? When does an employee do the best job for the customer? When he or she is empowered to do the right thing in any of myriad situations. This doesn't come from a policy manual.
The employees will be happier, too - and they're among the important stakeholders.
Many of us who have been Southwest Airlines customers may have experienced this.
describes a great example of how this worked in
Here's a summary of the
(surprising? I don't think so
) conclusion he reaches in that article.
Give your employees the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. T
hey will almost always surprise you by doing their jobs better with methods you never imagined.
If you own or have responsibility for any business where results matter, there's great advice