The core, the heart, the foundation of companies is found at the bottom of the organizational chart. These are the people who have the highest interaction with customers, the strongest influence on a company’s reputation, and very little ability to influence strategy. And, they’re our only method of implementing any strategy we contrive.
Most people at work want to do well. They want to be recognized. They want to matter. And they want to be able to be the solution to issues, concerns and problems. Sometimes, though, we want to manage and measure to such an extent that we dehumanize the humans who we want to emotionally and authentically engage with the people who come through our doors.
If those of us in leadership hold our positions as an opportunity to serve customers through our inspiration and enabling of employees—who make up this foundation—we may be startled at how very effective this is in running a successful business.
If we hire, recognize and promote for attitude, we change the game. We can teach skills, but it’s nearly impossible to teach someone to care passionately, to connect fully, to want to make a difference, or to do more than the minimum that’s expected of them. If we’re willing to tolerate poor attitudes on our teams because of high production, we’ll lose. Poor attitudes will become our culture—a culture in which we may get a lot of stuff done, many things measured, projects managed. But we also create a space in which no one wants to be.
Including our customers.
We need to understand who we’re rewarding. Our foundation employees watch who gets promoted: Is this a person who’s helpful, trustworthy, and honest? Or is this a person who only tells those in power what they want to hear to make leadership feel good in the short term?
Our foundation is not the bottom, as in lesser: Rather, it’s everything upon which our business is built. This foundation is the true measure of our strength and ultimate worth. Through our foundation employees, we tap into all of our possibility, all the change we seek to make, and the ultimate worth of our organization.
“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.” —JW Marriott