As a business professional, you will have heard the now debunked mantra, “Customer is King.” This post won’t go into full details why the customer is not always king, but we shall discuss why you need to pay more attention to your staff.

Vinnet Naya puts it quite plainly in his book, “Employees First, Customers Second”. In any company, the team is the single most important asset. How well have you been treating your employees? If you have already written a New Year’s resolution for your business, add “better employee management” to the list.

So, why should your team come first- after all, customers bring in the money? Technically, it is your employees who bring in revenue via the customers. According to Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, “A person who works for your company should be 100% proud of the brand they represent. If your employees don’t feel appreciated, they are not going to work with a smile,” he says.

This is true. A company generally has two types of customers; the internal customers (employee) and the external customers (patrons). When you make your internal customers happy, they will transfer that positive vibe to the external customers and maintain a positive identity for your company.

How can you implement a team first approach for success?

Your business shouldn’t be distinguished by just what you produce or sell, but by how it delivers those products and services. It is your responsibility as an entrepreneur to use marketing resources and train your staff to present a positive and likable personality to the people the interact with.

Unfortunately, while they operate in the 21st century, many companies are shaped and structured like 20th century organisations. According to Vineet Nayar, an unconventional- even radical- approach is necessary for management to bring them at par with modern practices.

The Employee First Philosophy

HCL Technologies as a case study, defied conventional practices when it turned the traditional management structure upside down. It put its staff first and customers second, and by doing this, was able to galvanise its value zone- that is where frontline staff communicate with customers and provide true value for them.

Companies who employ this strategy fire the creativity of its staff, and customers and direct themselves towards a journey of transformation to become not only profitable, but an authority in its marketplace.

Confront the truth; use the mirror strategy

To encourage real change, identify the reality of your business situation. Conduct open and honest conversations and create the need for change. Identify a point B you would like the company to ascend to train your staff towards that vision.

Build trust with transparency

To build trust needed for change, open the channels for transparency. Make every staff feel like part of the company by allowing them to contribute to major decision making. From the intern to top level executives, it is important to have transparent communication channels.

When you push the envelope of transparency, you build trust between employees and the management.