It’s a mantra so often used that we don’t think twice about it: the customer is always right. However, most us would agree that it’s OK to gently let go of customers/clients who are eating up time, energy and resources and at the end of the day don’t contribute much to your bottom line. You could argue the same with employees, but the latter just may be the result of your putting your customers first.
Flipping the notion on its head that customers should be your number-1 priority, there have been dozens of books and hundreds of speeches that make a very strong point that if your employees are not feeling the love, getting trained and mentored, and if morale is low and turnover high, then there’s a trickle-down effect – dripping right down to your customers and financials. There are hundreds of case studies of companies that tie high employee satisfaction to increased sales. What most companies don’t agree on is what it means to put your employees first. Does it mean that employees should be happy at work or happy to work? To whistle while they work or not complain about long hours? It gets messy when you have to define what Employees First means.
In previous blogs, I have pointed to one word that, in my opinion, is the most important employee attribute and the more you have of it, the more successful your organization will be: Passion. It’s hard to see it in the hiring process and difficult to teach, but when an employee has passion, it’s magical.
How you stoke employee passions in your corporate culture should be a never-ending focus for anyone in a leadership role. But putting your customers second can be dangerous, so tread lightly. Employee and customer satisfaction are like water and air: we need both to survive. Customers and employees are inextricably linked. There’s only one thing better than a passionate customer: the employees who serve that customer.
– Diane Schwartz