One of the most common examples of left-brained shortsightedness we see in the business world is when executives respond to downturns by dropping the company picnic or holiday party. Doing so can cause a variety of unintended consequences. For instance, by canceling an event that includes employee spouses, you completely disconnect from those important people that you likely only see once a year, thereby losing a chance to gain their support and appreciation for the company. The small savings are not worth the loss of goodwill. The same goes for cutting back free office lunches or 401(k) matches in a recession or down year, when, typically, you are also asking employees to work harder and potentially forego raises.
A company with a $5M overhead is pinching pennies, not being financially prudent, if it cancels a $10,000 holiday party. The cancellation impacts all employees and their spouses, so the savings per person is negligible. Effective business leaders should be able to think of a way to save $10,000 with limited impact on people.
In our opinion, business owners who get most of the gain in good times should also be ready to take on proportionate amount of pain in difficult times. To put it all back on the people who make you the money seems nonsensical.
A right-brain leader can instinctively calculate the return on investment of things like holiday parties that show up only as expenses on the income statement. We just know we are doing the right thing, that people will be happier, and happier people will make happier customers—and make us a more successful company. Any of your people can cost the company $10,000 instantly with a bad on-the-job decision. A more productive, engaged workforce that is looking out for each other and the company’s best interests can easily save $10,000 many times over in the course of a year.
This concept and others can be found in our book, Become Unmistakable: Start the Journey from Commodity to Oddity.