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put your own people first and let them handle the customer

I spend a lot of my life moving about, and have done since the early 80s. As a compulsive observer; it’s one of the ways that I have earned a living, I’m struck by how people behave towards each other.

There is a perceived pecking order that echoes the classic TW3 sketch on class distinction so wonderfully illustrated with height by Messer’s Cleese, Barker  and Corbett; “I look up to him, but look down on him”, but is one that I  going to challenge here.

I regularly mix with senior executives and many of these work at companies that like to project a caring image, high on CSR, valuing their people and so on, but do they always walk the talk? Because they get paid more than someone else does that make them in some way superior?

Take the typical conference or seminar environment where we may have paid a lot of money to attend, or maybe not for others. There we all are in our power outfits trying to network like fiends and being ever so nice to each other. But how are we treating the folks that have made the event happen; the people handing out the badges, drinks or refreshments?

One senior figure in our industry that I have seen on many occasions hosting such events never, ever, in my presence thanked the back-room team, and yet these were all FM events for goodness sake!

When I am out and about with senior people around their sites I am always impressed with the ones who actually know people’s names because that’s how I’ve always worked, but there are so many times when you do such a tour and the host seems oblivious to the people who work there; come on folks, these people are your colleagues! It makes no difference if they earn a fraction of what do, because if they weren’t there working away every day you would have no salary or bonus to earn.

The same applies to the way senior people treat customer facing employees in other companies, for would they like their front line troops to be treated like that? Last week on my commute to and from work I saw some appalling behaviour towards the train manager for example from middle management types, one of whom who had already had to be asked to move from a reserved seat and then, when asked for his ticket in the middle of an inane ‘phone call, complained about being interrupted. The urge to give him some serious education in leadership was thwarted by the way in which the train manager handled him.

Behaving politely to people costs you nothing, but it buys you a lot. For a start it makes you a nicer person to be around. Next it should get you thinking about the people that are delivering the profits that give you the opportunity to exercise your talents. Think about this scenario; you are often out on the road, maybe more than one day a week, but no-one really notices that you are not in, but if everyone in the company didn’t turn in except you nothing much would get done. My point is that no-one in the business is any more or less important. Every job has its place in the success of the business, so treat them with the respect that they deserve and take the same attitude with you when you interact with everyone for we all have our own place in the world.

In my line of work there are all sorts of companies that turn to us for the secret of that competitive edge. Well here is one for free; start recognising the front line, regardless of whether or not they work for you, because a happy front line will do more for your bottom line than anything else.

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