We have come full circle really and are back to understanding that good business is based on relationships, not the best sales pitch or the best salesperson. But real and strong relationships. It's the foundation to great leadership too. The book Leadership and Self Deception by the Abinger group is a great reference for people wanting to improve relationships not only in business but in their personal life also. It focuses on responsibility and accountability in leadership and the outcomes that we create as leaders. Well worth the read.
Leaders now need to ensure that their focus comes back to their people. For many years, so much longer than I care to remember, the focus has been on the bottom line. The focus is on the other ‘P’ word – profit – rather than the ‘P’eople who drive the profit in the business. It’s your people who are going to achieve your KRA’s/Targets, Customer Service Standards, drive your marketing campaigns, represent your brand and be the face of your business. If you do not invest in the enablers of your business, your business will suffer.
The challenge is on for any business owner to ensure they run their business with as little expense as possible. It makes sense. However, the demographics in our society are changing and will continue to do so. We are facing into a skills shortage so it is incredibly important to ensure the focus is on building a winning culture that supports and nurtures people to grow and develop within in your business. People drive your Profit. They are incredibly important to your business. Time for leaders to return their focus onto people.
I have seen first hand the impact on morale and employee’s health when a business is run so close to the bone. A business is staffed with the absolute minimum number of staff to service the needs of the clients based on academic research and number crunching. What this doesn’t take into account however is that good service and great relationships are emotional. A conversation will not necessarily go according to a script. It rarely does. A 5-minute phone conversation can turn into a 30 minute one at the click of a finger as that is what it takes to service the client to the highest standard. This can’t be planned for. Should an employee be saying to a client “I’m sorry, the time it has taken for me to answer your query has not been allowed in my daily budget so I must hang up now and take the next call”? That sounds like a robotic approach to me. What do you think will work better for your business – unemotional robots or emotional, intelligent, empathetic people?
Employees together with leaders have felt the effects of the growing business demands and the GFC of previous years. They are also tired, stressed as a result of experiencing the strain on business and the leader. They are often treated like mushrooms – left in the dark and cop the brunt of a leaders frustration. Now I understand a business needs to operate to achieve profit with as little expense as possible. I get that. But when the sole focus is on numbers at the expense of the people who sit behind the numbers, with no thought of how to support and engage the people, this is not a sustainable operating model for leaders. Given what I mentioned before about the change in demographics – people need to be high on the priority list or they will just leave. Because they can. And the leader is left with a gap, knowledge walks out of the door and expenses increase. Because you now need to spend $$$’s to recruit and if you don’t use a recruiter, you’ll be spending $$$’s of your time anyway! This could have been prevented with a strategy to nurture this employee instead of basically saying you are not as important as that other ‘P’ word.