March, 16 – BY MEGAN CAULFIELD – Greg Smith’s ‘Why I’m leaving Goldman Sachs’ letter published in the New York Times has sparked debate about the company’s values and culture and thrown the organisation into serious damage control, not least around the way it will now deal with its internal communication.
Goldman has issued a memo to employees disputing the ex-executive’s claims of money taking precedence over clients, or “muppets” as Smith claims some MDs refer to them. They outline the workplace satisfaction levels with 89 per cent of employees believing the firm provides exceptional service to them. And Goldman recognises they face challenges but reinforce they have a culture which encourages openness and transparency.
It’s a well-crafted response as you’d expect. But in all of this hoo-ha, what struck me when reading Greg Smith’s words was his passion and conviction.
Smith’s version of events – his belief in a culture which had revolved previously around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, or his sense of pride in the service he delivered to clients – demonstrate the qualities which organisations strive to attain. Organisations want to drive employee engagement and desire employees who espouse company values, who care about the work they do and are willing to support and lead those around them.
Much of the commentary over the coming days will focus on a disgruntled Smith having an axe to grind. And for organisations, it will reinforce the importance of a good crisis management plan in an age where public and private boundaries have blurred.
But the question that I’m left with is who would employ Smith after this?
On the one hand he will be seen as someone who can’t be trusted. But he’s also demonstrated a vision for a different world where values and the clients sit at the heart of the organisation.
In the end, it all comes down to where your values lie.