208-376-1701 bryan@bryanyager.com
First a quote: “Everyone talks about building a relationship with their customers. I think you build one with your employees first.” – Angela Ahrendts, former Sr. VP of retail at Apple Inc. Good morning and happy Monday, In last week’s missive, I began with a question I intended as rhetorical, “Who is more important; customers or employees?” In brief, key points included:
  • If you’re in business, you can’t have one without the other. Both are important.
  • If you want your customers to know how important they are to you and your business, then your priority must be for your team members to know how valued and important they are to you and your organization.
  • Valued employees yield valued customers. It happens in that order, not the other way around.
  • It is reasonable to assume your employees will likely not treat your customers any better than they themselves are treated. Leadership matters!
If your organization, department, function, or facility is struggling with the recruitment and retention of quality people, I suggest beginning with a little self-reflection this coming week. What messages, both intentional and unintentional, have you been sending to your associates? Perhaps more importantly, what messages have they been hearing and/or perceiving? If you have said things like, “Our employees are our most valued assets” the question becomes: is that a meaningless platitude? Or, do they feel like valued assets? Do they feel like important people and trusted members of your team? Is it possible that your organization needs a shift in mental models regarding employees? How about you personally? Where might your thinking be refreshed and updated to match today’s workforce realities? “As leaders, we must be agents of change, who face things as they are, not as they have been in the past, nor as we wish them to be now. We must prepare for things as they will be.” If we’ve learned anything from the tight labor supply over recent months, it’s that employees are no longer plentiful commodities. They are no longer readily available and easily replaceable, like spare parts on a piece of sporadically used equipment. The old mindset of, “Oh, three people quit this week, HR will simply go out and hire three replacements” is a problem. A new mindset is needed from every person in the organization.  (Not just HR professionals!) So, what is the mental model I’m proposing for your consideration today? What if we thought of our employees in much the same manner as we think about our customers? What if both customers and employees knew how vitally important they are to us? What if both groups felt equally respected, valued, and indeed, almost treasured? Let’s look at a few similarities which are shared by both employees and customers during these challenging times:
  • We cannot stay in business without them.
  • We need them more than they need us.
  • The competition for quality people is going to remain as challenging as the competition for quality customers.
  • Both are in short supply. Both are valuable, neither are easily nor inexpensively replaced.
  • It is more cost effective to keep current customers and employees than it is to replace them.
  • Their expectations are greater. Simple satisfaction is no longer good enough.
  • All are volunteers. We cannot order or mandate that someone continue to be our customer, nor continue to be our employee.
  • They have more options and more choices than ever before. (As we have learned during the Covid crisis, people not only have options to shop or work from home, but from anywhere in the world. (I recently hired a young woman from Singapore to create a PowerPoint presentation.)
  • If their needs aren’t met as desired, they rarely complain. More often they simply, quit, leave, and don’t return.
  • They can be your best advertisers… and/or your worst.
  • They want creative solutions to their challenges, needs, and problems.
What additional similarities do you see? Our customers expect us to help meet their needs and to be a solution for their problems. I propose our employees aren’t all that different. Companies that figure out how to do both equally well will continue to have a significant advantage in the marketplace. These companies will continue to attract the best customers and the most talented employees. How will you let your team members know how important they are to you this week? Related Articles and Bonus Quotes Below. How will you live, love, or lead, differently, or better, this week? Sincerely, Bryan Yager 208.376.1701 “Expanding Your Capacity for Success” Related Articles:   Do you know someone who might benefit from this weekly missive? If so, please feel free to pass along the subscription link below: Bonus Quotes:
  • “The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic
  • “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant
  • “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek
  • “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” – Anne M. Mulcahy
  • “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch
  • “People want to know they matter, and they want to be treated as people. That’s the new talent contract.” – Pamela Stroko
  • “Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans worthy of respect.” – Meghan M. Biro
  • “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen R. Covey
  • “Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” – Zig Ziglar
  • “Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” – Sam Walton