I spent 4 years working for a Fortune 500 company I affectionally refer to as “the green bean”. Part of the culture of leadership and management there was “Employees first, customers second, business third”. We were taught, “take care of the employees, the employees will take care of the customers, and the customers will take care of the business”.
In reality, I don’t see any other way that business can function in a healthy manner. You can FEEL when you walk into an establishment where it’s clear the #1 priority is the customer or the business or basically anything BUT the employees. At the same time, you can FEEL when you walk into an establishment where it’s clear the company is taking care of her employees first.
For some companies this is just talk – they say the employees are the priority but it’s pretty clear by their policies, benefits, work/life balance, etc that it’s just talk. And of course there are companies who don’t have this as a mantra but have locations that function this way to the extent they’re able, and vice versa.
It’s all about the leader. What are we doing as leaders to ensure that our employees are happy, healthy, set up for success, trained, given tools and resources, etc so they can take the best care of the customers who are bringing you the business? If all you’re focused on is the bottom line or even the customers at the expense of your people, you’ve got it all backwards.
So often we think business is all about making money and that customers are the most important thing. But if you don’t treat your employees well and give them a reason to come to work, they aren’t going to be motivated to give excellent service to your customers, and customers who aren’t treated well have lots of other places they can go.