A good friend once asked for my help managing interns. Although she knew she should be more compassionate, understanding, and helpful, she couldn’t get past the challenges the interns posed. According to her, it was the old you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink syndrome. She’d explain procedures time and time again only to watch the interns not follow her instructions. Sometimes she’d go over the same thing three or four times without a positive result. She was frustrated, and she knew it showed. She might not yell and scream, but her interns knew from her tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language that she wasn’t happy. I told her to treat your employees like customers.

Do Customers Always Follow the Rules?

I explained that I understood because training employees at any level can be frustrating. I asked her if customers ever asked silly questions, refused to follow procedures, and needed reminded time and again. She said yes. I followed up by asking if she let her disdain show with customers; did her tone, words, or expressions ever convey her frustration. She said she hoped not and certainly tried not to let it show. And then I asked her why she held her emotions in check with customers. She told me because without customers she didn’t have a job, without happy clients she wouldn’t receive a paycheck. I agreed with her, but added that without happy employees, teammates, and even interns she might not have a job or a paycheck either. And that’s why you should treat your employees like customers.

She agreed to work on holding her anger in check because she understood that I was right; happy employees are just as important as happy customers – business doesn’t work without both.

Treat Your Employees Like Customers

Most of us have heard Sir Richard Branson’s quote “Happy employees make happy customers.” At Virgin Airlines those aren’t just words.”What makes Virgin particularly wonderful is the wonderful group of people who believe in what they’re trying to do,” Branson says. “Who are appreciated, who are praised, not criticized, and are given a chance to do a great job.” — Forbes: Sir Richard Branson’s Five Billion Reasons To Make Your Employees And Candidates Happy

Be Thankful for Customers and Employees

Be thankful for customers and let them know your gratitude, but also be thankful for employees. Most employees have choices as to where they work. If you believe they’re committed to you because of location, pay, or their tenure, you might be in for a surprise. When employees don’t receive respect and gratitude from management, they’re not going to give their best, and they might have one foot out the door before you’re aware of it.

People want to know that they matter and that what they do has meaning. We spend hours marketing to customers to explain the benefits of our products and services, the problems we solve, and what that means to them, the customer. Shouldn’t we do the same with employees? Shouldn’t we let employees know that what they do has meaning as well as how it impacts the business, and what it does for them personally?

Bankers Aren’t Your Only Investors

Bankers aren’t your only investors. Employees invest their lives with you. Many spend more time at work than with loved ones; they count on you and want to know their investment is sound.

Do You Treat Your Employees Like Customers?

The bottom line is employees are just as important as customers. Lose either, and you lose your shirt, if not your business. So the question is, how do you treat your  employees? Do you treat your employees like customers?

Unhappy Employees Don’t Make Customer’s Happy

If you have an unhappy employee will they present their best face to customers? Maybe, and maybe not. A dissatisfied employee that works directly with client’s is an obvious concern. However, even employees with no direct customer contact can adversely affect the company client relationship. A shipping department that doesn’t care about how or when something is delivered, production people who could care less about quality, and an administrative staff that is apathetic, can all damage customer relations.

“There is a strong statistical link between employee well-being reported on Glassdoor and customer satisfaction among a large sample of some of the largest companies today. A happier workforce is clearly associated with companies’ ability to deliver better customer satisfaction — particularly in industries with the closest contact between workers and customers, including retail, tourism, restaurants, health care, and financial services.” — Harvard Business Review: The Key to Happy Customers? Happy Employees

You Can’t Grow Without Developing Future Leaders

One of the best ways to invest in employees is a commitment to continuous training. There may be no better way to show your appreciation than to help someone on your team grow. And developing the next group of leaders should be part of the growth plan for any business.

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash