Archive for the ‘Putting People First’ Category

Putting your people first

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Who are the most important stakeholders in a business?

There are in my view 3 key stakeholders in a business: Shareholders, Customers and Employees. There are others but these 3 are widely seen as the most important.  The question I want to explore  is who you put first on the list of priorities to get the best return for all involved.

The intuitive response from many is that the customer should be number 1 – they pay the bills, the customer is king and everything must be done keep them satisfied. The question when considering any issue is “What is the impact of that decision on our customer?”

There is another school whose mantra is shareholder value, shareholder value, shareholder value and the business must focus on enhancing that value. The question here is “How does that impact our shareholders?”

I would argue that putting your people first will not only create the best business but will also deliver exceptional customer service and a return to shareholders that will outstrip the other options discussed here.

Create an environment where people genuinely want to come to work and they will deliver the service or product to an exceptional standard, resulting in happy customers, repeat business, strong profits and increased shareholder value.

What does putting employees first really mean?

It’s not about paying the biggest salaries nor is it giving the best benefits.

It is about:

  • listening to your people;
  • respecting them for what they do at whatever level  they operate;
  • letting them take decisions they are comfortable taking responsibility for;
  • helping them understand how critical their daily contribution is;
  • showing them how fit into the company vision;
  • letting people make creative mistakes (experimentation);
  • providing ALL the right tools.

So let go and develop processes that give the team the tools to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Oh! – and avoid the half-baked ideas; I was in a restaurant when a young waiter asked, in the time honoured way, ‘Is everything OK with your dinner’ and when I said ‘No’ he became so flustered he had to walk away.  The poor lad had only been given half the tool and hadn’t the foggiest idea about what to do if a customer had a complaint – not his fault; the management hadn’t done their bit.

So putting employees first means putting customers and shareholders second?  The answer to that is a resounding NO.  Understand what your customers need and what the shareholders expectations are and ask “How does that affect our employees?” Answer that, make the investments, make employees the priority and the customers and shareholders expectations WILL be exceeded.

AND you’ll have a fun environment where people want to work saying “Yippee! it’s Monday” instead of “TGIF”

If you want to know more – why not give me a call.