You may be asking yourself, how does the afterlife fit into a blog on business and leadership. However, it could be one of the most important questions to ask yourself in a business situation because it provides a compass for your actions and decisions. When your standing at the pearly gates, you can rest assured that you won’t be asked how much money you made for your company in the first quarter of 2013. Even if you don’t believe in judgment after death, how do you want people to remember you? Do you think anyone will give a eulogy related to your business’s profit margins or do you think instead they’ll talk about your character and how you did or did not help others?
If you ever find yourself saying, “You need to think about the business” to justify a decision that you would otherwise consider unethical or not undertake in your personal life, you might want to stop and rethink your decision.
The face of your organization is your team. Your front-line staff may appear the most important and certainly they have the most direct contact with your customers, but everyone in your organization has some impact on your front-line staff and sets the tone for your culture. The formula is simple: Happy workers make happy customers. Your people can be your biggest advocates or they can bring down the entire organization. Would you go back to McDonalds if you always had to deal with disagreeable or unhappy people? Definitely not. Have you ever been in an Apple Store and infected by their enthusiasm for their products. That doesn’t happen by treating employees as a business expense. It happens by treating them with respect, involving them in the organization, and making them proud of what your organization is offering.
Treat your team with respect. You’ll not only feel good about how you’re putting a little happiness into people’s lives, you’ll also be investing in the people that have the most power to make or break your organization.
Words speak louder than actions. Do your actions match your words? It’s easy to send mixed messages without even realizing it. Like many managers, I like to tell my team that I have an open door policy and they can talk to me whenever they need to. Yet, in one of my past roles, few people would come to see me or they would come once the situation had escalated too far.
I had to stop and ask myself why this was happening, so I reached out to my team for feedback. The most common response was that, “I always appeared in a hurry, like I had too much to do”, so my team didn’t want to bother me. While I certainly often had a very full plate, I realized part of that was because I was getting feedback or hearing problems after the fact. I made a conscious effort to slow down and appear relaxed, even if I had a million things on my mind. Staff started to feel more comfortable in approaching me and the work environment was more positive for everyone.
There are many ways we can send mixed messages. Maybe it’s where we spend our time the most, or what how frequently we email on a given subject. I once had a manager tell me that supporting our teams was our top priority, but I never received a single email about supporting our teams. Instead, I received frequent emails about sales numbers. His words didn’t match his actions.
Over the years, I’ve learned to be very conscious of my actions and how they connect to the messages I am trying to promote. Do you have any similar lessons you’ve learned in your work experience?
There is nothing more frustrating than being told different things by different bosses and then having each one try to hold you accountable for their conflicting instructions. As leaders, it’s essential that we communicate well with the other leaders in our organization and that everyone is on the same page. This ensures organizational efficiency, reduces stress, and provides a clear direction for getting things done. Resources are limited in any organization and we have to work as a team with other leaders and other departments to create the best possible outcome. Also, nothing looks more unprofessional than leaders giving conflicting instructions or working towards disparate goals. Having regular leadership meetings is one of the best ways to avoid these situations and reach agreements with other leaders and other departments.