Growing up the daughter of a farmer/rancher, I’ve always been familiar with the term head count, as it signified the size of my father’s herd. He took great pride in this number, in fact I remember each of the milestones he celebrated, 25…50…75…100…200. All are comparatively small by today’s standards, but to my Dad those latter numbers were a symbol of his success…his KPI so to speak.
Perhaps for this reason, I’ve always found the term head count or heads out of place when referring to people. I recently read a book by Simon Sinek titled, “Leaders Eat Last” where Simon shares the story of Bob Chapman, the CEO of a $2B US manufacturing company who was pressured by his board to lay-off 10% of his workers during a downturn in 2008. Chapman refused and rallied his team, “It’s better that we should all have to suffer a little, than a few of us suffer a lot”. As a result, a 4 week unpaid furlough for all employees was crafted that could be taken at any time throughout the year in various increments. The focus on ‘heart count’ within his company was born.
Sound familiar? US Leaders at Etech with more than 8 years of tenure …remember a similar time. Etech, like many businesses had suffered a downturn. Our team came together with an eerily parallel tactic which resulted in a 10% cut in all onshore leadership compensation. As a sign of good faith, leaders were encouraged to take a day off, every other week, to compensate for the reduction in pay.
The irony is – most people did not take that time, in fact most doubled down on both their time and effort to build our business back up…and so it was. Today, although not without opportunities to improve, we are stronger than ever before, with our best days still ahead of us.
As we continue to work on improving retention in our industry, my call to action for anyone reading this article is to focus not on head counts, but on heart counts. Not on numbers and %’s but on making meaningful connections, building relationships, and growing and developing all those hearts & minds that are a part of your team!
Every person matters, every heart matters…YOUR heart matters! Wishing you the best in your journey as a servant leader today and every day!