Unless someone is a hermit, everyone comes in contact with people on a daily basis. There are relationships with family members, co-workers, friends, and even the barista at the local coffee shop. The connection can be in person, over the telephone, or in an e-mail. The tone of the communication used therefore becomes very important whether it is on a personal level or professional level. The perception given is almost instantaneous. How someone reacts to someone else influences them and impacts how they respond. People want to feel valued and appreciated.
This is extremely important from a business prospective. Unless an organization values its employees as well as their customers, they will not make notable growth or meet the potential goals for the organization. Putting people first is an effective tool in making any organization successful. If an organization is able to recruit the best people and keep them, it can lead to higher employee productivity and satisfaction. Competing businesses can replicate the products or services of any organization; therefore, a company's true competitive advantage should be its people.
Relationships revolve, devolve, or evolve around perception. It is not necessarily about reality. From the moment the customer is being served to the completion of the transaction, the customer is forming a conclusion about the quality of service they are receiving (Kirschner 8). Customers want to be helped, not handled (Kirschner 40).
"Are you in a safe location," are the exact words that are stated by the customer service representative when you call into AAA (American Automobile Association) for vehicle assistance. In an interview, Mark Shaw, president of the Ohio Automobile Club, was asked why this was the first question asked to the consumer. Why not just ask about the problem with the vehicle? Mr. Shaw explained that it was imperative to let the customer know that they were important (Shaw). That the company was not only concerned with their car problems, but with their personal safety as well (Shaw). Mr. Shaw stated that, "Often a service truck will not be able to be dispatched to a location for 15 or 20 minutes to several hours. If a person feels they are in danger where they are located, AAA would send a representative immediately to pick them up or call police." According to Mr. Shaw, providing this type of attentive service has proved to be a successful means in enrolling new memberships as well as keeping current members. People associate AAA with being a caring and reliable car service when they are broke down in an emergency situation (Shaw). Building a lasting relationship between customer and company is vital to the long-range goals of any organization (Shaw).
In order to create relationships with customers, an organization must also create relationships within the company itself. Comparing good-to-great companies, Good to Great author Jim Collins found that the growth of great companies did not come from the stock market, technology, competition, or products (54). To implement the greatest growth is the organizations ability to get and keep the right people (Collins 41).
Since it is important to keep, attract, and develop the best employees, a competing values framework can be helpful. Using this type of model can be beneficial in identifying some of the principle standards needed and to determine the importance of individual roles within an organization (Quinn 15). There are four management model characteristics: Rational Goal, Internal Process, Human Relations, and Open Systems (Quinn 10). These are the subdomains of the larger framework of organizational effectiveness (Quinn 11). Each of those models assumes different criteria of effectiveness (Quinn 12).
To specify the competencies of each model, the competing values framework divides the models in eight different sections (Quinn 15). The eight roles fit into the four model structure. The director and producer roles are rational, the monitor and coordinator are internal process, the facilitator and mentor are human relations, and innovator and broker are open systems (Quinn 16). Each role has certain characteristics that identify them as individuals.
Acknowledgement of these roles can be helpful to the success of the organization by distinguishing and appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of the people in management. As employees develop a better understanding of their skills, it increases production and promotes loyalty to the company.
It is hard to argue that organizations that fail to appreciate their employees can still be financially and professionally successful. If you treat people like a tradable commodity it will sooner or later bring about negative effects (Keller). The company will gain a reputation as a business that undervalues employee (Keller). The customer might perceive this as if they do not care about their own people, they must not care about me. The consequences could eventually be a financial decline. On the other hand, when you treat employees with respect, they in turn will respect the organization (Keller). The companies that have continually trained their employees and made improvements realize as important as the organizational structure is, it is the value of the people that adds to its success (Keller).
The difference between a mediocre company and a successful company is the effectiveness of its people. It does not matter how big or small the organization. No one goes into business to fail. By valuing people, giving them the necessary tools and training, and keeping them motivated can lead to success. Employees will want to contribute to the organization by passing on that knowledge and enthusiasm. They will begin to build a relationship between themselves and their customer. The good perception that is given can be the reality when people are put first.
- Collins, Jim. Good to Great. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
- Keller, Ralph. "Whatever Happened to Respect for People?" Industry Week 29 April 2008.
- LexisNexis Academic. 28 December 2009 <http://www.lexisnexis.com.ezproxy.ohiodominican.edu/us/lnacademic/auth/ checkbrowser.do?rand=0.193058382202702&cookieState=0&ipcounter=1&bhcp=1>.
- Kirschner, Rick, and Rick Kirschner. Love Thy Customer. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
- Quinn, Robert E., et al. Becoming a Master Manager: A Competing Values Approach.4th ed.
- Wiley, 2007.
- Shaw, Mark. Personal interview. 09 January 2010.