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Ordinary People Taking Action
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Her infant son is sick and will spend months in and out of the ER. She knows she needs to stay focused on what is most important – her baby. Her manager tells her to do what she needs to do for her family. They work out an adjusted schedule that allows for her to stay focused on her baby – every ounce of attention that is needed for her son is permitted. And, they have an agreement to keep her engaged with her projects at work. Two years later, her baby is a healthy toddler and she is recognized as the “top performer” for the company.
He is diagnosed with cancer. It hits him hard, almost paralyzing him. The diagnoses itself might be harder than the months of treatment that are now in his future. His employer tells him to take care of himself and his family and do what he needs to do. Work will be here when he is healthy. A year later, with cancer in remission and his energy restored, he returns to work. He was up for promotion before he left on medical leave; he receives his promotion upon return to work. Recruiters contact him regularly for other opportunities and he says he isn’t interested in leaving his company.
Two colleagues are working together with completely different personalities and work styles. They struggle to meet deadlines, leaving work each day feeling frustrated. Their tension is noticed and rather than being ignored, their company supports them in identifying ways to work better together. They complete the project, still feeling like they aren’t a good team. After months of continued support, their manager assigns them different teams for the next project. They both flourish. The company retains both employees and both feel supported, not punished, for their personality differences.
She loves her job – and her family. The commute is brutal, sometimes taking her 2 hours to get from home to the office in the morning and then just as long getting home in the evening. She doubts her ability to work full-time, meeting her client commitments and her family needs. She tells her manager that she needs to resign. Instead of accepting her resignation, her manager works with her to have a flexible schedule, two days a week. Six months later, a customer sends a letter of appreciation saying that she provides excellent customer service and always goes the extra mile to meet the client needs.
Seven quarters and counting, one specific branch always has the highest performance numbers of the region. When the executive leadership team is asked to identify the secret to success for their particular branch, the branch manager says, “we build great customer relationships, so they want to work with us.” When asked how the relationships are built, the manager responds, “I ensure my employees have what they need to be successful.”
“There are two coffee shops, one is a two-minute walk from the office, the other is a six-minute walk from the office. I always come to yours – the six-minute walk,” a customer says to the barista. The barista responds that the customer must enjoy the walk. Yet, what the barista learns is that the customer prefers the coffee shop that is farther away because the atmosphere is simply more welcoming. Later, the barista shares this feedback during a team meeting. The team discusses what makes their shop different from the other – after all, they are the same company. The team agrees it’s because the store manager genuinely cares about each employee, which makes the employees genuinely care about their customers.
My kids are on mid-winter break this week and wanted me to take them and their friends skiing. I prioritized kids over work today and took them to the mountain. Mountain air makes everything better. I am now catching up on work this evening, reenergized.
People always talk about putting the customer first. Doing what makes the customer happy. The customer is always right. What if that was changed to putting the employee first?
Employees are our biggest company asset. If employees are the priority, they will make the customer happy.
So simple; so powerful.