We all know the value of compounding interest. We all know that if you invest when you are young, as painful as it may be, put money aside when you are in your youth and let it grow, it will be worth much more when you are older because of compounding interest. The same is true when it comes to people and relationships; the investments in relationships pay off because of compounding interest.
Last year I celebrated my sixtieth birthday – the greatest week long celebration anyone could have – bookended by two fabulous parties with friends. The first party was with my contemporaries, people who were mostly my same age and place in life. It was wonderful to be with them and we had a fabulous time laughing together about our stage in life and appreciating those who had walked with me through it all.
The second party was for the guys whom I have invested in over the many years in the ministry and beyond (pictured above). It was twenty six guys around a table at the Union League laughing together, and even crying a little as we reminisced about our great history together. One theme jumped out above all the rest. The investment I had made in each of these guys was the best thing I could have ever done with my life. Around the table were amazing men who – each of them in their own right – have gone on to be great leaders; and each of them have impacted a generation or two beneath them. It is compounded relational interest.
I went to a wedding a couple of months ago and one of the guys from that birthday dinner was there with some of his guys. Man after man came up to me and thanked me for investing in their mentor; I was blown away. Compounded relational interest.
It is said that Dawson Trotman, the founder of the ministry organization, The Navigators had one question he asked his staff. He would say to them, “show me your men.” Not show me your program, show me your marketing plan or show me your camp. It was, “show me your men,” because the people were what was important. The people were compounded relational interest.
When you start your business you don’t think you have the time to invest in people and you are like the young person who says they don’t have enough money to invest in savings. I’ve had far too many top executives tell me they don’t have the time to invest in their people. One guy proudly told me that he meets with his key direct reports for one hour each month. I was appalled! If it was an hour a day I would be impressed. An hour a month is disastrous. I spend more time in my wine cellar than that!
I told him he doesn’t have time NOT to spend with his guys. If you wonder why you don’t have the right people to fill the right seats on your bus then it might be because you have not created a culture of investing in people that gives you the depth on your bench you need. You didn’t invest in your key people, they didn’t invest in their key people and so on it goes. Someone leaves and you call the head hunter in desperation because you are trying to make up now for not investing earlier – like trying to fill up your retirement fund when your seventy.
The key pain point for investing in people is time. It takes a lot of time. A lot of time. More time than you have, but it is worth it. When I took over as Provincial Director for Ontario I walked with the key staff guy in the region every day. Every day we walked for over an hour and talked about everything. We talked about the job, the culture, his life, his house, his family – everything. It was an investment. Five years later, when the region had grown to a size it had never been in over twenty years, we looked back and knew that it was the investment in Mike, in the early years that paid off in compounded relational investment.
Take a look around your organization and ask yourself if you are relationally investing with the goal of compounding interest. Ask yourself who you could invest in who would be able to invest in others and see the results of compounding relationships in five, or ten years. Ask yourself if you have a strategy of investing in people that lifts up the idea of compounded relational investment. If you need help, then contact me and we’ll talk about it.
The cost seems high, but the payoff is worth it.