The best investment a business can make is an investment in their people. ALL of their people, not only the ones who work for the business but the ones who buy from the business as well.
Most business leaders agree that investing in the development of their people is essential to long-term growth. They see their people as an investment that pays limitless returns. Many of those same business leaders however see their customers as almost an expense. They want more customers but they want them with as little expense attached to them as possible.
When a business sees their customers as an expense they provide the lowest level of service possible without losing the customer. At least that’s their goal.
Businesses that see their customers as an investment do market research to determine what MORE they can do for their customers. Businesses that see their customers as an expense do market research to determine how much LESS they can provide them. Hopefully without losing them.
If you don’t think a business would do that “how much less” type of market research then you have been very lucky in avoiding the need to speak with certain companies that 99% of the population loves to hate. Those companies lead the way in what I would call “negative market research.” They bake a certain amount of customer “churn” into their annual plans with the understanding that’s it is cheaper to lose some customers than it is to invest in them.
If you have a cell phone or cable TV for instance you likely understand exactly what I’m talking about.
If you run a company and you see your customers as an expense then your customers will one day see you as a company too expensive to do business with.
Good companies invest in their customers, better companies invest in their people, great companies invest in both.
Providing consistently excellent service isn’t hard. But it takes constant effort and a realization that you’re never “there.” Even if the majority of your people see your customers as an investment if you have just one or two who don’t, the customers will find them. It’s almost like magic…in a bad way.
Are you investing in your people? All of your people? If not you’re missing an opportunity to grow your business at a much faster rate than you probably are today.
Invest in all of your people, it’s truly the best investment you can make.
Some decisions are easy to make. Some decisions are harder. Some decisions require a little information to make. Some decisions require a lot of information and some require a lot more than a lot.
But every decision is a better decision when the information required to make the decision comes from multiple sources. Not all the information will be equally valuable. Some may even be worthless. But considering, if only for a moment, the value of information eventually deemed worthless makes for a more informed decision.
But some people in leadership positions disagree with that philosophy. They believe only their input is required. They believe they have enough experience, enough knowledge and good enough instincts that they don’t need additional viewpoints.
They are wrong. They are wrong even if the decision they made turns out to be right.
When people in leadership positions make decisions in a vacuum they demoralize their teams. They deny them the opportunity to learn how decisions are made. Their teams may begin to believe that vacuum packing decisions are the proper way to make decisions.
When people in leadership positions make decisions in a vacuum they deny themselves access to varying viewpoints and different life experiences. They lose all the experience that the members of their team bring to the organization.
When people in leadership positions make vacuum packed decisions they make poorer decisions. They hinder the growth of their organization and their people.
Authentic Leaders seek advice and consul from a wide variety of sources and people. They combine other people’s experience with their own and they have the courage to admit when someone else’s input makes more sense than their own.
Authentic Leaders make better decisions as a result. Even when the decision is wrong. The extra input and variety of viewpoints provide the Authentic Leader with fallback options when the initial decision goes off the rails.
A decision that provides the decision maker with additional options and alternatives is a great decision.
If you’re in a leadership position ask for input. It is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of courage and strength. And don’t ask for input only from those who think like you. Go after some far out thinking because if it does nothing else it will strengthen your confidence in the decision you ultimately make. But you never know, it may turn out that it’s not so far out after all, maybe it will help you make a much better decision than you otherwise would have.
Vacuums are good for cleaning up. They are not so good at helping someone make a decision. Unseal your brain and let some fresh ideas in now and then. The people affected by your decisions will thank you.