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There is a terrific piece in Inc. that focuses on recent comments made by Meta Platforms chairman/CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an employee Q&A session during which he was addressing the current economic environment and its impact on the company.

"If I had to bet, I'd say that this might be one of the worst downturns that we've seen in recent history," Zuckerberg said. "Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn't for you, and that self-selection is OK with me."

And, he said, "Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn't be here."

Inc. argues that "at first glance, Zuckerberg's comments may seem like par for the course with a global recession on the horizon. But it actually reveals signs of a major problem, one that could severely damage Meta's outlook for years to come, namely:

"Prioritizing short-term financials over people is a recipe for disaster."

According to the piece, "these comments lack emotional intelligence and empathy."

While many leaders may believe that "flawless execution and ruthless prioritization are necessary evils in times like this," the fact is that "research shows that employees thrive in an environment that promotes psychological safety, where people feel safe to take risks and make mistakes. By 'turning up the heat,' as Zuckerberg put it, the company adds unnecessary pressure and makes a bad situation worse.

"Further, the idea of 'prioritizing ruthlessly,' combined with stricter management and monitoring of employee performance, relegates people to second place. It prioritizes the bottom line, while forgetting the people responsible for company success. (These comments couldn't have come at a worse time, with Sheryl Sandberg, who actually had a reputation for empathy and emotional intelligence, recently leaving the company.)"

While some might argue that the only people who have to worry are the low performers, it doesn't always work out that way.  Top performers hear the words, and "even Meta's best employees make mistakes.  They get sick.  They start or grow families.  Their kids get sick.  They lose loved ones.  They get depressed.

"By sending this type of message, Meta adds pressure to all its people. People who, after having a bad month, or week - or even a bad day - will fear how their manager is looking at them. Or how their next evaluation will go. Or how long they will have their job.

"This is the opposite of a psychologically safe environment; it's psychologically damaging.

"Working under pressure like this isn't sustainable. It hurts your people, hurts your culture, and hurts your cause."

However, "when company leaders see the big picture, when they make employees feel safe, that mistakes are ok, that they've got their backs--those employees will not only perform better over the long term, they will be inspired to remain loyal to the company … Do this right, and you can still cut costs, execute well, and help your business to survive tough times - but you'll do so without alienating those who have helped you get here in the first place.

"Most importantly, you'll build a sustainable, emotionally intelligent culture that both you and your employees can be proud of."

KC's View:

I think this is an important piece in Inc., especially because it comes at a time where it is a pretty good bet that a lot of businesses will be focusing on ruthlessly cutting costs as a way of making it through economic tough times, ignoring the fact that these decisions may be undercutting their essential value propositions.

Let's repeat:

"Prioritizing short-term financials over people is a recipe for disaster."