The customer comes first is an old adage in business that always gets head nods from those who hear it. Many, many books, articles, and studies have been written over the years that support this principle. In the book Raving Fans, by Ken Blanchard a similarly simple approach is presented: If you want raving fans (customers), you must first figure out what they want and then deliver at or above their expectations. Pretty genius.
But what’s missing from Ken’s book is an even more brilliant concept: Create raving team members (employees) who in turn will do the same for all they come in contact with. Now you’ve got more than just a customer service technique, you have a leadership style and an ethos the entire company can live by. Create raving team members and your raving fans will follow.
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek
So how do you create raving team members? Better teams are shaped by better company cultures. And better company cultures are shaped by leaders who value their people above all else. As Richard Branson says, “Put your staff first, customers second, and shareholders third.”
Unfortunately, despite all the talk about the importance of healthy company cultures, only 8% of business leaders focus on developing team members above all their other competing priorities. Statistics consistently indicate that most managers employ outdated, ineffective leadership methods. This is a problem. And the result is less than 35% of American workers are engaged or actively engaged at work.
It’s time we stop talking about the importance of healthy company cultures and start creating them. Embrace the core value that your primary job as a leader is to be culture builder and align your schedule to reflect this priority. Less day-to-day operations and more strategic thinking, fewer emails and more one-on-one time with your direct reports, less management and more mentoring.
Below are three behaviors that leaders who are creating raving team members have mastered:
- Define your mission as an organization and seed it into every conversation and decision. Your mission is more than something you say, it’s something you live by. As you model your company mission, you will find that it naturally spreads throughout the company until it is embraced and articulated by every team member.
- Discover what your employees want. Work isn’t what it used to be. The next generation of the workforce has entirely different expectations for what work looks like and what they get out of it. See the table below for a comparison of past and current expectations of your workforce.
- Deliver plus one. Once you know what your employees want, do everything in your power to help them get it. But here is the catch: You must not do it not as a management technique but because you really, truly care about them. Need a “care” litmus test? Ask yourself: Would I spend my own personal time and energy to help a team member become the best version of themselves? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track.
As you follow these three steps you will begin to establish a company culture that inspires loyalty and daring feats by courageous, raving team members. Not only will they create raving fans, but their creativity and commitment will break through your biggest challenges.
Decide today to leave behind your old ways and intentionally, regularly and progressively cultivate a healthy company culture.