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Lesson #1: Make Your Company a Great Place to Work
Like father like son; both Watson Sr. and his son made it their number one priority to ensure that IBM was a company that people wanted to work for. From generous employee benefit packages to encouraging an open line of communication between staff and management, Watson Jr. continued his father’s tradition of placing supreme importance on worker satisfaction.
“There are many things I would like IBM to be known for, but no matter how big we become, I want this company to be known as the company which has the greatest respect for the individual,” said Watson Jr. “This is a company of human beings not machines, personalities not products, people not real estate.”
Under Watson Jr., the company initiated a rigorous hiring process – a series of interviews followed by an aptitude test. But, once hired, an IBM employee could be guaranteed a workplace environment where his or her opinions could be freely voiced and where they would be listened to by management.
“We have always believed in IBM that our most important asset is our people and so we have followed a basic principle of trying to hire, train and keep the best possible people,” said Watson Jr. “This principle, along with the recognition of the dignity of every individual, is the backbone of IBM employee relations.”
Watson Jr. prioritized his workers above all else, knowing that without a loyal and dedicated staff, no amount of research and development could propel the company to success. “We believe in the importance of the individual at IBM and we'll never forget it,” said Watson Jr. “We think it's more important than the most fantastic electronic product that we could ever invent.”
Watson Jr. was not the same ardent fan of company cheers as was his father, but he nevertheless strove to ensure his workers felt that same loyalty and enthusiasm for their company as he did. “No subject occupies more executive time at IBM than the well-being of our employees and their families,” said Watson Jr. “The one unbeatable talent IBM has been most proud of through its history has been, and is today, the contributions of loyalty and skill of every employee.”
From maintaining and open and unimpaired two-way communication system within the company to encouraging the contribution of workers at every level of the company to overall progress and implementing methods of appreciation and recognition, Watson Jr. made sure that his company was one of the best you could work with.
“The employee relations of this company were founded long ago upon the Golden Rule and we expect all of our managers in working with their people to start with this fundamental,” said Watson Jr. “IBM's dedication to the dignity of the individual is no myth. To me it is the very essence of our success.”
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