Win by putting employees first

Donna Cutting shared many of the principles from her latest book, “Employees First”

How can you win the marketplace? How can you provide the best customer service that delights your customers and keeps them coming back again and again?

Sorry, but it is NOT living by the worn out slogans that “the customer is always right” or that “the customer is king.” Instead, if you put your employees first and treat them like gold, they will then respond by going the extra mile to provide excellent effort to excel internally and externally with your customers and clients.

Recently, I both attended an event and read an article that illustrates this point.

In October, 2022, I attended the North Carolina SHRM (Society of Human Resource Mgt) Conference. One of the keynote speakers was Donna Cutting, founder and CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc., a consulting firm that provides tools and training to help leaders engage their teams to deliver world-class customer service. She shared that initially she formed her consulting and training practice around focusing on providing world-class customer service, but then later found that putting your employees first was the ticket to excellent customer service.

Putting employees first with enhance, not detract from, great customer service.

Some of Donna’s main points in her presentation:

  • Putting employees first does not mean you are putting your customers last, but instead inspires your employees to provide that sterling customer service.
  • That it is Human Resources that most often will need to take the lead in promoting this paradigm change, and it starts by changing the minds of the senior leaders
  • Though HR may take the lead around employee experience, it does have to be an “everyone function.”
  • Organizational culture needs to shift from a silo focus to a collaboration focus.
  • It’s most often not the people that need fixing, but the processes that need fixing.
  • Finally, don’t think of your people as “human assets,” but instead as “human beings.”

And then a great article I recently read was in my University of Chicago Booth School of Business Fall 2022 Chicago Booth Magazine. The cover story was “Putting People First” with 1998 Booth alumni Jim Fish and his company WM (formerly known as Waste Management.) As President and CEO of WM, Jim Fish led WM into becoming a leading company for sustainability and people-first policies.

Jim makes it a point to stay connected with his team members across all roles throughout the country so he can understand their needs. He built upon his own life experiences of living through a long life-threatening illness and how others came to assistance during that difficult time. He has instituted innovative programs such as funding college education for his employees’ children, which has resulted in unprecedented levels of employee retention, satisfaction and performance.

Give “putting employees first” a try in your organization and see what kind of outstanding results will come!