When you think of service, what memories does that word conjure up? Does your mind quickly go to a time when you had a bad experience? For many of us it does. Our minds are wired to remember the negative more than the positive.
If you have ever worked in customer service, you know that it can be a thankless job. These front line people are disrespected and yelled at more often than not. Unfortunately so are their leaders in middle management. That type of treatment compels me to ask one question: “Has society forgotten the Golden Rule?”
I’ve worked for organizations before whose front line employees were treated like a means to an end by those in corporate’s ivory tower and whose middle management was blamed for the sins of senior leadership’s poor decisions. But does that kind of a culture really drive the service and sustainability we need in business and help to foster the long-term relationships we need with both our team and our clients? The answer is a resounding, “No.” In fact, it does exactly the opposite.
To better understand why, let’s take a deeper look into the nature of human behavior. Put simply, the human brain is wired to react. When placed in a high-pressure, high-emotion situation, the fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in. This means, when people are treated poorly, their natural tendency is to fight back or run rather than to react positively. Subsequently, quality, productivity and performance drop significantly and we are caught in a vortex that is difficult to escape from.
We as a society and as leaders cannot afford this reaction, however, the blame for our team’s behaviors lie squarely on our shoulders and not on theirs. Why? Because as the saying goes from one of my favorite movies, “attitude reflects leadership.”
So, what is the answer or secret sauce to motivating, compelling and inspiring our teams? It’s simple: kindness, support, love, and gratitude for the hard work our teams put in day in and day out to serve the customers we care about. It’s all about gratitude. Gratitude for our teams first and foremost, and gratitude for our customers who give us the honor and opportunity to serve them.
This Thanksgiving as we think about how we can better position ourselves to enter a more successful 2020, I would challenge every single senior leader to first support your team and thank them. A kind word goes a long way; a hateful discourse sends an employee (and ultimately a client) away.