They’re All Customers

Who are the most important people to your business? They’re the customers, right? I suppose that depends on who you perceive to be your customers. If, when you think of customers, you think of those who drive your revenue streams, dictate the reputation of your company, and have a direct impact on your bottom line, you’ve hit the nail on the head…it’s your employees.

I recently read an article by Phil Hamburg, Executive Managing Director of Root, Inc., who makes a solid case for this concept. He says, “The truth is that your employees are the audience for your strategy. They are the people, if treated right and armed correctly, who will authentically translate your message, your vision, and your brand to the paying customers you’re after. So you better make sure they understand it and are emotionally connected to it!” If we aren’t taking this concept seriously, we’re doing ourselves a disservice – and, taking it one step further, we’re probably not as profitable as we could be.

How much time do you spend ensuring your most important “customers” are satisfied? Most of us can agree that attrition is generally quite costly. Sure, there are times when it’s appropriate but mostly it’s just a drain on the company’s resources. To stay ahead of the game, it’s important to foster an environment people don’t want to leave. Think about the kind of employees you want delivering your vision and executing your strategies – they need to be engaged, loyal, and enthusiastic in order to do this effectively.

So, how do we attract employees with this quality? There are a few key things to consider to ensure we’re on the right track:

  • Don’t discount the value of a fair wage. If you look around, and you aren’t paying the best wages in your industry and geographic location, you aren’t going to attract the best employees. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is as true today as ever. The last people you should be frugal with are your employees if you want to have a truly successful enterprise.
  • Listen to them, really. We’re not talking about checking a box off some list we read about... This is about engaging in an honest discussion to learn how your employees are feeling about their value to the company, their ideas, frustrations, and needs. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to talk about how you can support them.
  • If you don’t get their buy-in early, at least keep them informed. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen repeatedly is making decisions without regard to their impact on employees. If you really want to crush morale, make a major decision without asking those who will be forced to implement the change what it will do to their workload. This doesn’t mean you’re asking for their permission, but you just may be surprised when you learn something from an employee you hadn’t thought of – and you end up steering in a different direction completely.

+Carolyn Kanabrocki is a consultant with Morrison, providing business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim controller services, and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Carolyn directly at ckanabrocki@morrisonco.netor via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 212.

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