Doing Business the Mormon Way
Since business or any other field begins first with the people involved, to understand the way Mormon businesses operate first requires a look at the core of business: Mormon businessmen. What makes Mormon businessmen the way they are? Why do they perform the way they do?
- Confidence in Public
Mormons believe that success, in business or any other endeavor, depends a great deal on preparation. For one thing, Mormons believe being well prepared gives them confidence. “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” is a motto that they live by, even in business.
Training the Saints to confidently speak in public comes early. It's common to see pre-schoolers at the podium facing dozens of people as they give short talks, sing, or otherwise perform. They learn early to feel comfortable with people even in large groups. Those opportunities continue as they mature and grow, so it's not rare to see many Mormons not only in business but in the performing arts and politics.
Preparation for Mormon businessmen stresses getting as much education as possible. But Mormons believe that everyone, even if those planning to “only” stay home and teach their children should learn as much as they can. Mormons in Utah statistically have a high rate of undergraduate and graduate college degrees. This is probably true in other countries as well. To help Saints around the world have an equal opportunity to be productive and successful, the Church has established a Perpetual Education Fund to finance training and education.
Mormons are taught to be goal-oriented. They constantly have goals in their callings or other activities. Many young Mormon youth become Eagle Scouts. Having learned to plan, organize, and work to reach goals is an advantage in the business world. Many good Mormons become salesmen or operate sales organizations because they're usually successful in reaching quotas.
Teamwork, another helpful habit in business, is something that Mormons are very familiar with. Members receive many different callings in the Church, during which they must work closely with and cooperate with others. They may be asked to lead or to follow, to teach or to learn. Mormons believe that people don't lead or teach well unless they can also follow, listen, and learn. Working "from the ground up" helps Mormons understand how things operate, what problems to anticipate, and how to correct them.
From childhood Mormons are taught to work hard. Many family gardens and yards are cared for by the children and youth, at first alongside their parents, and perhaps later, particularly in large families, solely. They also do household chores such as cleaning, cooking, sewing, shoveling snow, and preserving food. They are encouraged to provide similar service for extended family, neighbors, and the elderly. At a young age they often begin jobs for pay, such as delivering newspapers and babysitting. As adults, Mormons give their employers more than they are paid for, so it is easy to understand that Mormon business leaders also have strong work habits and ethics. They are not ones to waste time or resources, having learned in many positions in their Church and families to be responsible in their stewardships and family chores.
Mormons are expected to give much service in their lives, so it comes naturally to them in dealing with employees, customers, and vendors. They learn from Christ's washing the feet of His apostles that to serve, while possibly humbling, is not demeaning, and that it's not an example of powerlessness but of power to make a difference. They learn that people are always more important than things and to serve them is a privilege and a recognition of their infinite worth. LDS believe that to serve is to follow the example of their Father in Heaven and Christ, the most powerful beings they know.
Many Mormon businessmen point to the Church missions they served as a training ground for their lives in business. Most of them earn the money to cover their expenses for their two-year missions. They focus on a clear goal and are committed, dedicated, and determined to reach it. Missionary work also develops other qualities like self-discipline, persistence, and patience. As they meet people and encounter hardships, rejection, and persecution, they learn to be undaunted problem solvers who overcome the obstacles they face. They become creative, organized, and good with time, money, and people. They learn compassion and respect for others of diverse backgrounds and beliefs and to serve them even if unappreciated. They also learn self-respect as they understand that they can make positive changes in individuals and the world. A collateral effect of young Mormons serving missions is that they learn to be leaders. Missions become a Mormon finishing school, basically a course in executive training.
- Treatment of Employees
All that Mormons learn from being Church members is, or should be, carried over into their work life, and nowhere is it more important, LDS believe, than in the treatment of their employees. Mormons who conduct their business the Mormon way are friendly, courteous, and cordial with their employees, not from a business strategy but a sincere liking of and concern for their employees' health, safety, and happiness. Mormon businessmen are concerned with the individuals that they lead and make an effort to get to know them. They develop a rapport with their employees that motivates them, so not only do they never try to exert undue authority over their employees, but they also feel no need to because their employees are already accomplishing all they could want. They never see their employees as adversaries but as partners who contribute their time and talents to the success of the business and so should be rewarded not only with the correct amount of money but with recognition and appreciation. The businessmen treat their employees as equals to themselves, with no class distinction, and shows no favoritism among them. One of the strengths of Mormon businessmen is that they value training. They know that they can't expect something from their employees without first making sure their employees know what they expect and how to provide it. They never scream, swear, or abuse. They value the dignity of each of their employees. They also recognize that treating their employees well is good business because it motivates their employees to become loyal, hardworking, and honest and to help them build their businesses.
- Treatment of Customers
The way Mormon businessmen treat their customers coincides with the way they also treat their employees. In their dealings with customers, Mormons are also friendly, polite, sincere, honest, consistent, and concerned with individuals. Their customers know what to expect from them, that they are dependable and as good as their word. Mormons give their customers good service and are appreciative of feedback given them. Mormon businessmen respect their customers and, in turn, their customers respect them.
The humility required of sincere religious believers carries over into the business world and academe. Mormons who achieve great success in either area tend to remain accessible to employees, peers, students, and the public at large.
All in all, doing business the Mormon way is really following the Golden Rule and other gospel principles. Church authorities require all members, including businessmen, to be honest in their dealings. They counsel members to treat others fairly and kindly. They stress that anything less is not the Mormon way of doing business--or of living.