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Owing Your Employees is an Organizational Sin

The problem of owing employees is one that plagues almost every organization in Nigeria. Sometimes, it’s so bad that it has destroyed the reputation credentials of the organizations affected. And if you take a survey and ask employees how often they have been owed by their organizations, you’ll realize that they have been owed once or twice during the course of their working lives.

I once worked in an organization that took pride in owing its employees. Then, it was a thing of immense joy and surprise when employees were paid at the end of the month, because no one usually expected to be paid. We would celebrate and send many ‘Thank you’ emails to the boss. And, as expected, he would smile and carry himself as though he had done us a huge favor. In fact, paying us our salaries was a favor.

One of the cardinal sins of every organization is the owing of its employees. The moment an employee begins to work in an organization, a contract that benefits both sides has been drawn. The employee is expected to work and fulfill his/her obligation, while the organization is expected to pay the employee what’s due at the end of the month. It doesn’t matter whether, or not, the organization has the money to pay.

In Nigeria’s business environment, it’s a common occurrence for organizations to owe employees and still have the temerity to disdain them when they fail to perform effectively. This tells a lot about the culture in the organization. It also tells a lot about the entrepreneur leading the organization. It shows clearly that he doesn’t understand what entrepreneurial leadership is really about. It is my belief that many entrepreneurs often owe their employees, and treat them with disdain, because they think it’s difficult for an employee to get another job when he leaves.

An owed employee is a disrespected, disgruntled and uncommitted employee. And you don’t expect him/her to perform excellently when he has not been paid for months. You also shouldn’t expect him to serve the customers well. No employee can give his best in the absence of their salaries. The best they would do is short change customer service for quick, personal gains at the detriment of the organization.

Now, as an entrepreneur, I understand there are times when it’s very difficult to pay employees’ salaries at the designated time. When such times come, it’s wise of the entrepreneur to tell the employees beforehand that their salaries will be delayed. This gives the employees a high feeling of respect and care. They will also trust you the more even in the absence of their salaries.

In one of my consulting sessions with an entrepreneur, he complained about the high spate of disloyalty among his managers because he wasn’t always forthcoming with the payment of salaries. We used the ‘Advance Information method’ as a strategy to restore loyalty and respect within the organization. To his utmost surprise, it worked. His managers are now level headed even when nothing changed financially.

Entrepreneurs are leaders – influential leaders. They must always act with this consciousness and begin to take positive steps and decisions that impact their employees and societies. When employees are respected and well cared for, it makes an impact on the society.

A strong leadership mentality is an essential advantage for the entrepreneur to succeed in today’s business environment. It doesn’t just make the entrepreneur better; it makes his organization more impacting and meaningful. It also gives it an aspirational flair.

Do you want to become a better entrepreneur?

Do you want to set your organization apart from others within your sphere?

Do you want to become more meaningful and impacting to yourself, employees and society?

Always pay your employees at the designated time.

is a thinker, content developer and business development strategist. He is the Principal of Richard & Malcolm Consulting; a business development company. Richard enjoys working with entrepreneurs and leaders pursuing transformational change for their organizations. He is the author of two books – The RICH Theory and Advance. Connect with him on twitter @RichardChilee

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