Yep… these are the words we heard come from a company leader just last week. He wants his staff to fear him…. it’s nothing we haven’t heard before and yet it baffles us everytime.
To those bosses and supervisors who lead by intimidation, we’d like to ask - How’s that working for you? How’s it working for your company culture and also, how’s it working for your sales and customer relationships?
Do you think the way you relate to your staff does not relate to your sales and customer interactions?
We strongly disagree and so does web blogger Joy Kosta for the Human Capital Institute. With some help from Gallup’s Chief Scientist John Flemming, Kosta reiterates the responsibility that a leader has to ensure high engagement with customers AND his/her staff.
In our experience, we’ve seen the way the latter can deeply impact the former- (staff engagement and customer relationships). Supervisors who invest time in building relationships with their staff and who treat them as individuals with valuable ideas truly experience a profound difference in productivity, customer relationships and revenues.
Employees can see right through intimidation or lack of caring or respect and choose (whether consciously or subconsciously) to respond to that kind of treatment. Do you blame them? As human beings, it’s natural for us to shut down, hold back or even retaliate when we feel that we are not being respected or cared for, especially by someone who is expecting something out of us.
Costa’s blog, “The Talented Touch,” touches on one of our favorite adages: “People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.”
As leaders, we do expect a lot of time, hard work and effort out of our staff. But how much effort are you putting into showing them that those things actually matter?
Costa asks this question: “Can you recall the last time you walked around, smiled and made eye contact, sincerely interested in what your talent/people had to say, expecting to learn something you may not have guessed?”
Phillips Electronics CEO Greg Sebasky is a prime example of an executive who cares. In this WSJ video, he discusses how he makes sure his schedule balances time to speak to front line employees… and here’s why:
“The importance of allowing the time even with all the priorities we have as executives with front line employees is really learning about how they’re experiencing their job in a way that engages them and they feel that an executive listening to them shows humility and that is a very, very strong message to send to our line organization. They’re also the people that are spending most of the time in front of our customers and so they can bring back insights from the customers on a regular basis to help us improve our service and our product delivery.”
Sebasky really understands the connection between executive-employee relationships and how that ties into company success.
In our work, we’ve witnessed that some of the best ideas can come from the most unlikely source – often someone whose name is closer to the bottom than the top of the org chart! Imagine the motivation and productivity that can come from an employee whose idea was instrumental in helping the company bring in more sales this month or cut unnecessary costs?
But the boss who chooses to lead by intimidation or apathy toward his employees, would never be able to tap into these kinds of ideas.
In the same way that you want your staff to care about their jobs and the company’s well being, they want you to care about their ideas, needs and goals. Plain and simple, they won’t care until they know that you care.