Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Trickle Down Customer Satisfaction

“It takes a week to two weeks for employees to start treating customers the same way the employer is treating the employees.” - Sam Walton

Reading this quote from Sam Walton, I can’t help but think about exactly how true this observation is and, yet, how many companies don’t seem to appreciate its meaning. In simple terms, if you treat your employees like a necessary evil, they will in turn treat your customers the same way. Yet, if you value your employees and treat them with kindness and respect then they will treat your customers the same way.

And this issue goes deeper than how they treat the customers because it also reflects the way they will treat each other.

During my career I had two bosses who would qualify as “screamers.” The first boss screamed because he loved the power that came with intimidating people. It gave him great personal satisfaction when people would tiptoe around him, avoid bringing him bad news, and greatly fear being summoned to his office. I worked for this boss when I was fairly young and still impressionable. I was on the job less than 30 minutes when he was screaming at me for something that had gone wrong in my department. Clearly after having been in charge for only 30 minutes whatever had gone wrong was not my fault. But that wasn’t the message. The message was that he was the boss, I was the subordinate, and he was the one in control.

Like I said, I was young and impressionable. It wasn’t very long before I was treating my co-workers exactly the same way I was treated. But that just made sense because many of them worked for the same boss I did and faced the same treatment every day. In retrospect, the whole work environment reminded me of “Lord of the Flies” where being tough was valued, being thoughtful was for wimps, and we measured our worth by how often we “won” in meetings with others.

It was not a very healthy work environment and it took me some time to adapt my ways again when I finally left.

Years later, I worked for another screamer. But this guy was different. He didn’t scream as much for the enjoyment as he did for the fact that he believed this was how people were motivated. His screaming caused people to fear for their jobs. And, since they feared for their jobs, they would work harder. That’s what he sincerely believed.

“The beatings will continue until morale improves.” – unknown

Being older and more experienced, this was a trap that I did not fall into. I had long since figured out that they way I treated my people would directly reflect on the way they treated their peers, subordinates, and our customers. It was very difficult to be treated poorly by my boss and not carry that same treatment through to my subordinates and peers. Needless to say, many of my peers who lacked the emotional intelligence to deal with a screamer did fall into the trap and created organizations where customers, whether internal or external were treated as the enemy.

The simple formula is: happy employees create happy customers. Happy customers buy your products and create happy shareholders. Knowing that the way you treat your employees will indeed trickle down to your customers, what should you be doing in your company to create happy employees?

That’s a question that every company and every leader needs to be asking.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture

• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time....

Dave Meyer

ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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