150 employees.  What it means. 

By Michael C. Pittman

I admit, I watch the employee count pretty closely.  Not because it’s really any great indicator of success or growth, but because I take the responsibility of being an employer very seriously.  When we approve hires, when we tell someone we would like you to come earn your livelihood here at our organization, I immediately feel a responsibility towards that individual. Not just to make sure their paycheck gets cut every other week. I feel a responsibility for much more.

That will likely read as bullshit to someone. Maybe many of you. Maybe it seems like owner fluff or good ole’ coach speak. It isn’t.  Every milestone we hit, 20, 50, 100, and now 150..  I do kind of take a moment to let it sink in. 150 souls that we depend on every day to move us forward.  150 souls that feed their family on our mission. 150 souls that are part of something bigger than themselves.

In truth, I do feel extremely responsible for their well-being.  Their happiness. They spend more waking hours on weekdays working than they do with their own families in most circumstances. If their experience at work is miserable, then they go home to those they love with negativity and resentment. That is a REAL responsibility. If they do not feel motivated or like they have a legitimate opportunity to further themselves and their families, they will become complacent and their work will suffer. Their livelihood could be at risk. That is a REAL responsibility.  Younger people, entry level positions, they need to understand how employers will expect them to work and behave.  Whether they work at CSG for 10 years or two months, we can only further them by educating them while treating them fairly.  That is a REAL responsibility.  Life will continue to deal these human beings cards that are very hard to play. There will be things happening in their personal lives that can dramatically impact their work. We must never turn our back or give up on someone in a rut. We must do whatever we can to help them move forward. That is REAL responsibility.

Frankly, I do take their personal lives quite personally. I had bosses that helped me when I was in financial situations early in my career. It was a big deal to me. I had bosses that did not care when I had major things happening in my personal life, and frankly just expected production levels no matter the circumstances. That was also a big deal to me. What’s crazy, and why it’s an easy decision, is I am in position to help when people need it BECAUSE of the people who need it. So yes, I almost obsessively insist that I am aware of what is needed in times of personal crisis.

Look, despite every attempt I make to provide a positive experience and help those that I can, we screw up all the time.  The job is really hard.  We are stupid busy, and frankly quite often my people have to take the weight of an upset customer due to where we kind of fit in the relationships we work with our partners. Often,  despite our growth, we get super overwhelmed without a lot of notice and we are put under a lot of pressure. This is not an easy place to work, stress is a very real thing, and no matter our intentions things get overlooked, people get treated unfairly, and management has to work to resolve many situations with our employees.  We are so far from perfect we do not have a magic wand.

But I think, or at least I hope, our 150 people know that we want nothing more than to do right by them.  That we want their lives to be better because they work at our organization. The day that money becomes more important than that, is the day that this entire thing falls apart.  If you are looking for a job that draws a super defined line between work / home life balance, truthfully, this isn’t the place for you. And I get it. I’m not for everyone. Those that want to embrace a community of humans that is bigger than the product we produce, come help get us to 200.

At the end of the day, I swear the number I am most proud of has nothing to do with growth, revenue, profit, salary. We have an absurd employee retention rate. People that come here stay here. I think that means that to some level what I am attempting to do here is appreciated by the people that matter most. That means more to me than anything.