Basic Business Cents

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Understanding Employees and Owners Needs & Wants

by Lou Schultz, SCORE counselor

Original publish date 11/2009

Every organization has three constituents that which they must satisfy and delight-customers, employees, and owners. In the last article, we discussed in length the questions to address to determine the needs and wants of customers. Important as that is, we cannot overlook the other constituents of our organization. Building on the discussion of needs versus wants in the customers' needs/wants article, let's see how it applies to employees and owners.

We want employees to not only be satisfied with what is provided for them today, but to make them enthusiastic about the future of the organization and their role in it. Managers must obtain information about employees' feelings to understand what is important to the employees. What do they enjoy in their work? Do they feel they are doing something worthwhile? Do they feel the job offers them opportunities for growth? Once these and other questions are answered, managers will have a prediction of what provides intrinsic motivation, which Dr. Deming notes is the strongest motivation of all.

Some questions to be addressed regarding employees are:

  1. What are the articulated needs of our employees?
  2. What are the unarticulated needs of our employees?
  3. How would our employees rate their pride of accomplishment?
  4. How does our employee turnover rate compare with our competitors?
  5. Do our employees operate with a spirit of teamwork?
  6. Do we have mutual trust and respect between our employees?
    1. Between employees and management?
    2. Between employees and customers?
    3. Between employees and suppliers?

The third major driver of the organization is the needs and wants of the owners. They deserve the same consideration given to customers and employees.

Some questions to be considered regarding the owners are:

  1. What are the articulated needs of our owners?
  2. What are their unarticulated needs?
  3. What is their level of satisfaction with their investment in the organization?
  4. How comfortable are they with the direction of the organization?
  5. How deep is the mutual trust and respect between the owners and management?

By truly understanding the real needs and wants of the three constituents of our organization, we have the basis of development of plans for the future. They are three of the twenty-one areas to research in order to develop a winning strategic plan. Details on the other categories will be discussed in future articles.

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