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Why empathy should be a company’s top priority

January 16, 2017

Why empathy should be a company’s top priority

An MSP reflects on a tragic attack that impacted his business last year and revealed its core values.

Giakob Beasley has served as president of Beasley Technology, a full-service IT company in Cushing, Okla., for more than four of the 12 years he’s been at the company. During this time, he’s worked hard to expand the company’s client base to stretch across the state of Oklahoma serving schools, healthcare, municipalities and businesses of all types. His main focus, however, has been in developing the overall morale and culture of his company’s team of 55 employees.

Last year, Beasley’s company faced a horrific physical security attack at its office headquarters. Beasley spoke about the incident at the 2017 Ingram Micro ONE event and shared how it reinforced his company’s commitment to a culture of empathy. 

Reliving a six-minute life-threatening attack

In October 2016, a disturbed man wielding a knife forced his way into the procurement office of Beasley Technology and proceeded to attack team members. Upon entry, the attacker was met head on by Beasley and team members who were able to successfully subdue him. Though many injuries were sustained, there was no loss of life during the attack, which lasted six minutes. Shaken, but not broken, Beasley rallied his team and encouraged them to not allow the intruder to redefine the company’s culture or their outlook on life. Here were some additional key takeaways he shared at the event:

  • “Seven years ago, we added the word ‘empathy’ to our corporate mission statement,” he said. “It’s not a term you hear that much in business conversations. But it’s very important in hiring—and firing—workers and in other aspects of running a successful company. Are you empathetically minded? Our lives are a series of ongoing joys and tragedies. So many of these things are not visible to employers. “Do you know what’s going on in the lives of your employees?” Beasley asked of the audience.

Before Beasley Technology fires anyone, managers ask themselves what mitigating factors the employee may be going through. “We try to find a way not to fire them,” says Beasley. “We try to work with them and go deeper with them. Can we walk with them through their struggle? We have a large, extended family at our company, and we realize the decision to fire someone affects their entire network.”

  • Beasley also talked about the importance of investing in his local community. Beasley’s hometown of Cushing, which has a population of only 7,000 people, has suffered much in recent years due to falling oil prices and the town’s heavy reliance on this industry. “Our town rallied around us in our time of need,” he shared. “The chief of police visited us regularly to make sure our employees were doing okay. Our friends at Ingram Micro provided our staff and families with a meal and with trauma counseling,” he added. “When we invest in others, they will be there in our time of need.”
  • He also shared with the audience that had his staff not come to his aid, he wouldn’t be alive today. “Violence, illness or the death of a loved one is enough to derail us,” he shared. “Some business owners just see dollar signs going down the drain when an employee is going through a difficult time. But I believe our company’s maturity and success depend on empathy more than anything else. When you look at clients, friends, family—even strangers—with empathy, it changes your perspective and it helps you readjust your approach. Empathy fosters a sense of trust and belonging. It fosters loyalty and commitment to a team, and it allows us to find our place in something that’s bigger than ourselves.”
  • “It’s the responsibility of a good community to watch out for one another,” Beasley added. “I already knew we had a strong community at Beasley Technology. But this incident revealed the totality of support our team has to offer.”
  • Beasley added, “I’m 32 years old, so I still have a lot to learn in life. Most things I’d like to learn more peacefully and a little less chaotically. But I am convinced that empathy is at the heart of everything.”

He concluded by acknowledging that the services his company provides, which require a financial commitment to earn degrees and certifications, are where he makes his money. “But it wasn’t money that saved us [that day], it was friends and family.”