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  • Writer's pictureStefano Calvetti

What Happens When a Boss Puts the Organization Before the Employees?

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

As a leader, you may have a clear vision and strategy for your organization. You may have ambitious goals and a compelling mission. You may have invested time, resources, and energy into building your brand, your products, and your reputation. But what happens when you start to think that the organization is more important than all the employees who make it possible?

As a leader, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the mission and the strategy that drive your decisions. But if you forget that your employees are the ones who make your ideas come to life, you are setting yourself up for failure. You may think that you can achieve your goals by sheer force of will or cleverness, but in reality, you need your employees to buy into your vision, to feel empowered and valued, and to contribute their own skills and ideas.

It's a trap that many bosses fall into, consciously or unconsciously. They may believe that their authority, expertise, or vision entitles them to prioritize the interests of the organization over the needs and aspirations of their employees. They may see their employees as replaceable, expendable, or secondary to the greater good. They may assume that their employees are there to serve the organization, rather than to collaborate and contribute to its success.

But the truth is, when a boss puts the organization before the employees, they risk the foundation of their business and pave the way to a toxic environment. Without employees who are motivated, engaged, and fulfilled, the organization cannot thrive, let alone survive. Here are some of the consequences that can arise from this mindset:

1. Employees lose trust and respect

When a boss puts the organization before the employees, they are essentially telling their employees that their needs and opinions don't matter. This can erode the trust and respect that employees have for their boss and the organization. Employees may start to feel undervalued, ignored, or disrespected, and may respond by disengaging or seeking other opportunities. They may also become less likely to share their ideas, feedback, or concerns with their boss, which can lead to missed opportunities or problems that go unnoticed.

2. Employees become less committed and loyal

When employees feel that their boss or organization doesn't care about them, they are less likely to feel committed or loyal to their job or company. They may become more focused on their own needs and interests, rather than on the organization's goals. They may also be more likely to look for other job opportunities or to accept counteroffers from competitors. The effect could be high turnover, recruitment costs, and loss of institutional knowledge and skills.

3. Employees become less productive and creative

Unmotivated or unengaged employees are less likely to be productive or creative. They may do the minimum required to get by, rather than going above and beyond to innovate, problem-solve, or improve processes. They may also be less willing to take risks or suggest new ideas, which can stifle innovation and growth. This can lead to a stagnant culture, a lack of competitive advantage, and missed opportunities for growth and development.

4. Employees become more prone to conflict and negativity

Employees that feel that their boss or organization doesn't care about them are more likely to become resentful, frustrated, or negative. They may engage in gossip, complaints, or conflicts with coworkers or managers, which can create a toxic work environment. They may also become more prone to absenteeism, burnout, or mental health issues, which can further impact their performance and well-being. In a worst-case scenario, resentful employees could seek a way to damage their boss or the organization, with a downward spiral of morale, productivity, and reputation.

So, what can bosses do to avoid these consequences and build a culture that values employees as much as the organization?

1. Listen actively and empathetically

Bosses should take the time to listen to their employees' feedback, concerns, and ideas. They should practice active listening, which means not only hearing what is being said but also using their emotional intelligence to understand the underlying emotions and motivations, and also showing empathy, which means acknowledging and validating their employees' feelings and perspectives. This can help build trust, respect, and collaboration.

2. Communicate clearly and transparently

Bosses should communicate their vision, goals, and strategies clearly and transparently to their employees. They should explain how their work contributes to the organization's mission and success and share relevant information about the organization's performance, challenges, and opportunities. This would contribute to having the employees feel more connected to the organization and understand their role in it. 3. Invest in employee development and well-being

Bosses should invest in their employee's development and well-being. They should prioritize well-being by providing opportunities for learning, training, and growth, and encourage employees to pursue their interests and passions. The promotion of work-life balance can help employees feel valued, supported, and motivated. 4. Recognize and reward employees' contributions

Bosses should recognize and reward employees' contributions to the organization's success. They should celebrate achievements, milestones, and innovations, and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of their employees. Meaningful incentives, such as bonuses, promotions, or career opportunities, based on merit and performance, can be helpful to make the employees feel appreciated, recognized, and inspired to continue making a difference.


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