Who is more important in the workplace, employer or employee? Established business owners know you can’t grow and sustain a business without the right human capital. Human capital refers to the stock of knowledge, talent, skills, and abilities brought in by the employee to the organization. Physical capital implies the non-human assets of the company, such as plant and machinery, tools and equipment, office supplies, etc., that help in the process of production. An employer, such as myself, who works a position within the company, unlike an owner who owns the company but is not active in a role within the company, is also part of the human capital of the organization. Most construction companies have the owners participating as human capital within the organization. Acknowledging that and viewing your employer as part of the team instead of the ruler of the team goes a long way—an organizational chart with job responsibilities helps balance and identify expectations for their daily job within the company in addition to the responsibilities of ownership itself.

When does the balance of power between employee and employer happen?

The same way it happens in a marriage, a parent and adult child relationship, or any other relationship where two individuals commit to working with one another for mutual success. The key to the success is an alignment of skill, attitude, use of effective communication, and documentation for authenticity of both sides. When that alignment is off, both sides must want to mutually work at realigning the relationship because they care about one another and don’t want the relationship to end. Too often, in both personal and employment relationships, hubris or excessive pride creeps in causing one side or both to focus on what the other is not doing for them or what they deserve instead of what they can do to mutually align expectations.

If you tell your significant other you contribute more to the relationship than they do, you might not get the reaction you desire. A better approach might be to ask them for the specific contribution to the relationship you desire from them and discuss their willingness to accommodate your need. If your request is mutually beneficial, rarely would you be denied—sometimes delayed but not denied. Once any relationship moves past the initial honeymoon stage, work is required to keep it healthy and strong through good days and not-so-good days.

It is really easy to look at what you desire or miss in a personal or business relationship, get angry, and lose focus on what you have, what you have invested, and what you would lose if you chose to force an end to it. For those of you who remember Reader’s Digest, you may know of William Arthur Ward, a motivational author who would say, “It is wise to direct your anger towards problems—not people; focus your energies on answers—not excuses.”

If you desire the balance of power in the workplace employer or employee, start by asking yourself these questions daily:

  1. How was my attitude today? (Any anger?)
  2. How was my energy level today? (Did I look for solutions?)
  3. Did I have a balance of relational and transactional interactions?
  4. Did I overstep my boundaries? (Follow the organizational chart.)

If you focus on what angered you and why, the solutions, the task and the person behind the task, and what was your place and responsibility, boss or not, I assure you not only will the balance of power exist but also your overall value in business will increase.

Have you ever watched a tight-rope walker? The ones who succeed look forward while staying balanced right where they are, one step at a time, adjusting themselves along the way.

To All Our Better Balance,

Suzanne Breistol


1 Comment
  • Steve Fales

    Another great piece of wisdom. Both sides of the relationship have importance. And indeed – best to look for solutions, not focus on problems. Thank you.

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