Dollars & Cents -or- Culture & Sense?

On one end of the spectrum, cube farms are filled by Account Manager A and Customer Service Representative B; all taught to answer the phone with the same canned greeting that callers begin to recite when they dial the company’s toll free number. On the other end, is the entrepreneur with big ideas and an endless list of thoughts, seated in a bustling neighborhood coffee shop where they attempt to bring order to chaos.

While I am still very green and my resume lists only eight years in the workforce following my undergraduate studies, my eyes have been wide open and I have scratched the surface of many different work environments. Some nights, I have returned home smelling of garlic, my clothes spotted by olive oil. When the demands of a busy clinic schedule did not allow for a quiet lunch break, a row of paperclips lined the hem of my scrub top. I have watched business take the global market by storm and have stood by a woman in her eighties, beaming with pride and amazement, as she considered her fitness gains.

In each setting, I have observed how businesses run on both dollars and cents, as well as culture and sense. Lean too far in one direction and your accounting books might have something to boast of, but the people punching the clock and catching early flights lose sight of their individual contribution and sense of belonging to a team. Too much of a counter-reaction will have employees singing the praises of their workplace, but productivity suffers by the lack of accountability and coaching.

How do we attempt to rally for both revenue and relationship? I believe that many enterprises, organizations, corporations, and mom & pop shops are striving to accomplish just that – to promote employees with a place where they can both contribute and flourish. As much as it needs to be about dollars and cents, success should also be measured by the health of the culture and the level of care taken to ensure that the priorities make sense.