What is the role to the corporation to individual employees? What is the best way, as an employee, to think about the corporation?
In today’s ever changing society, there is a shift from those working long-term for a single company to making several jumps in a career to new companies, freelancing, or even starting a new company. This leads me to wonder how others view companies, but I’ll include here my thoughts (assuming things like salary, selfish desires, etc. do not play a role):
A company, to me, is an organized pool of talents. There are many resources of individuals, who do their specific task to the best of their abilities, working alongside many other individuals who do their specific task to the best of their abilities. When these individuals are organized in a way that they can collaborate, they leverage each others skills and make something even better than the sum of two parts. In other words, the role of the corporation should be to make this formula work: 2+2=5. It fails when either customers are not on board or when 2+2=<4. I’d even throw in factors like mismanagement, bankruptcy, culture clashes, etc. into the failed formula group since it means that leverage was not satisfactorily achieved and resources were not properly placed. Another reason for failure are unforeseen external factors (i.e. overall market or economy, or perhaps failure/success of a comparable company), typically this cannot be managed (outside of risk management and scenario analysis) so it doesn’t factor into this topic even though it is certainly worth mentioning.
When 2+2>5, success follows. Some reasons for this could be culture success, high performing individuals, synergy, and excellent resource management. As with before, unforeseen external factors can help a firm succeed, but in the long run 2+2 MUST > 4 so we’ll exclude external factors. The role of the corporation, in these cases, is to leverage individual skills into a singular “team” (or sum of smaller products/services). These individuals are given the right tools (or enough tools to be useful), have the right knowledge (or enough knowledge to be useful), and the right amount of time (or enough time to be useful) to create this 2+2=>5. It seems that when individuals feel their contributions to this formula do not sufficiently equate (or their contributions could be improved but are unable to improve it themselves), friction exists causing resources to leave. And, like any team sport, the whole is only as good as it’s weakest link so under-performing team members must necessarily be removed from the equation (or separated from the whole) to keep the balance.
In summation: The role of the corporation for employees should be to give them the tools they could otherwise not obtain so that their individual contributions can, when combined with the contributions of other individuals, create something better than the sum of its parts. 2+2=5. When individuals believe their contributions are not sufficiently utilized, the friction causes them to leave. If an individual believes they can do better on their own, or they (usually do to empirical experiences) find that they are better utilized outside of an organization, they create their own venture.
The question I have is, if this is all true, is the feeling of under-utilization (or alienation) of an individual come from more experience in the workforce, or is it more weighted towards our general cultures such as the Millennial generation? It’s easier than ever to venture out on our own, especially when the market is as “frothy” as it is now. Costs to create a company are way lower than ever, it’s very easy to hire freelancers to do basic (or complex) tasks if specific skills are needed, and the information is readily available to anyone willing to put the time in. Will we be seeing a “freelancer” economy in the future? (I don’t think so) or will we move back to the “company-man” culture as corporations get more data on how to retain employees and how to better utilize their individual skills? I believe we will see “leaner” organizations in the future, where companies are run solely by more “experienced” individuals looking for responsibility without the headaches of “hot-shot” companies run by young entrepreneurs or large corporations. Perhaps they themselves were ex-entrepreneurs. Think co-op but for larger scale business solutions. Run on a non-profit tax status or taxable with low retained earnings.