Many of you know, I enjoy all types of music. Recently, as I listened to my iPod, it shuffled to a Rolling Stones’ tune, Emotional Rescue, and I began to think about a culture of ownership. Don’t ask me how I got there. The inner-workings of my brain are a mystery which I will never be able to solve.
I own 100 shares of Apple stock. As of the day of this writing, it is worth $17,547, a healthy 49.7% return since my original purchase. Not bad! I received $252 in dividends in 2017 for a 2.15% annual yield on my original investment. As an Apple owner, I voted my shares last year to elect the board members, appoint the auditors, etc. This type of ownership is aligned with our logical, analytical left-brain.
I am one of Apple’s owners, but quite honestly, if I had voted “NO” on the shareholder matters, those motions would have still carried at the shareholders meeting. Even though I am an owner, CEO Tim Cook has never called me about a new product or initiative, nor has he asked my opinion about a business decision he faces. In this regard, ownership is simple economics (dividend yield, capital gain appreciation) and little, if any, demonstrative attachment to my investment; perfectly proven as I type this blog on my Dell laptop and post it to social media from my Samsung phone–Apple competitors both.
When we speak of employee-ownership at Andesa, we desire to bring an emotional connection to ownership.
To us, ownership is a promise to support each other and to deliver for our clients. As employee-owners, we directly impact the work we perform, the product and services we deliver, and the value we offer in the marketplace. It is about belonging, applying personal talents, growing as individuals and making a difference. This ultimate form of ownership is more aligned with our passionate, creative right-brain.
I recently experienced this emotional connection in a profound way when I asked my fellow employee- owner, Lead Systems Engineer Greg Lansberry, to assist me in the formation of a recommendation regarding a technology platform he supports. Greg crafted a well-researched business and technical response. Here is an excerpt from the opening paragraph of Greg’s email response:
“It’s a subject that I hold dear to my heart and likely won’t be able to express my feelings, thoughts and opinions entirely in words, but I’ll do the best that I can in this email.”
He later concluded with additional observations besides the technical aspects of his recommendation:
“It takes someone with a good attitude to work on the system – individuals that can look past the language and actually see how elegant the system is architected and the business knowledge it has to offer. It’s extremely shallow (and frankly silly) to look solely at the language and think you’re at a higher level than it. That attitude simply just doesn’t align with our values and negatively impacts the employee-owners that do work on the system.”
I often say true ownership is emotional not economical.
Simply stated, emotional engagement directly impacts economic results. Greg’s words and my simple Apple ownership/Andesa employee-ownership comparison support that premise. Greg’s opening paragraph (“dear to my heart”) provides testimony to the power of pride in one’s work. I also love how he pulled attitude and values into the recommendation. Reflection on this issue, from not only a technical perspective, but also from an environment /cultural perspective, demonstrates Greg’s increased growth as a leader and provides a terrific example of how engaged owners think and behave.
When Andesa elected to transition to an employee-owned, ESOP company, it did so with an awareness of the power of the employee ownership model and out of a commitment to our employees and our clients to live into our Andesa Forever vision.
It is a promise to our fellow employee-owners that Andesa will provide opportunities for those interested in personal and professional achievement and the willingness to work to accomplish the same.
It is a promise to our clients that we will not abandon them in search of only financial return. Andesa’s clients made the conscious decision to relinquish control of certain products to our care. They are legally required to service these products for the life of the buyers of such products. If we fail them, their cost to transition to a different service alternative will be enormous. We made a long-term commitment, and it is simply not in our DNA to default on such a commitment.
With emotionally attached and engaged employee-owners, I am confident in our ability to live into these promises.