Jolley II: Treat Your Employees As You Want Them To Treat Your Customers

Los Alamos

What do I mean by this column title? The answer may be simple in concept, however, a lot of practice to carry out.

For example, if you are the manager or owner of a fast food restaurant where you depend on a quantity of anonymous customers purchasing food for money as a transaction, and your employee average turnover is two weeks no matter how you are perceived as a boss, then it makes sense to exchange labor for paycheck as a transaction.

However, the fast food industry is about the only industry nowadays for which that transactional management may still apply. Even then, when you determine an employee who has the potential to move up in responsibility you will want to spend more time on them.

Most organizations today – whether business, government or contractors – depend on customers or clients who return to make additional purchases on a long-term basis. Here you want your employees to get to know your customers and their needs, build relationships with them and give them the attention they need to engender satisfaction that they did business with you and will want to return to do business with you again. 

In this situation it does not make sense to treat your employees badly.

To constantly yell at your employees, talk down to them in an ugly tone, to stand over their shoulder making sure the work is done your way, otherwise known as micro managing. This only generates resentment, stress and disengagement in your employees, and they are likely to take it out on your customers, or do just the minimum amount of work to get by your notice.

There are better ways of leading your employees to accomplish your organizational goals. However, it takes practice, work and patience. Get to know each of your employees as a person, who they are as a personality, their interests, their family, and show concern for them.  

You are not letting them run all over you, rather, you are building influence with them by identifying their needs, not their wants per Hunter (2012)*, just as you want your employees to do with your customers. Therefore you are building influence with each of your employees, which gives you authority … the skill to get employees to want to do your will … because of the personal influence you have built. And not by power, which is, “I am the boss and you will do what I want or else”.

Building authority with employees is a learned behavior and takes practice and character. Character in great leaders means being humble, showing respect, determination, gratitude and self-control, being honest and keeping commitments.

Improving your character improves your leadership skills (Hunter, 2012)*. Think about your boss, how do you want him or her to treat you? Do they manage you or lead you? Be that boss that treats your employees as you want your boss to treat you.

The essence of leadership is how to inspire and influence people to work enthusiastically toward organizational goals identified as being for the common good. Management is what you do, leadership is the person you are and the influence and impact you have on people (Hunter, 2012)*.

Try leading your employees, not managing them. It takes practice and patience. Your employees will respond by becoming motivated to want to help you. They also need practice; they will make mistakes, and may do things their way, and not the way you would do them. 

However, they will learn from their mistakes, and as long as you have happy and satisfied customers, and meet the organizational goals, allow employees to do things their way. It is good practice for them, someday they may be leaders, and will want to be the type of boss they saw in you.

*Reference: Hunter, J. C. The Servant. (2012). New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.