In every business, two categories of people are critical: the customers, who is often described as the king and the employees! The customers are often referred to as king because they pay the bills but no one has really found a name for the employees who serve the king.
I was once told about the practice of kings in ancient times. The kings usually have a servant whose primary task was to taste their wines before the king is served. If the drink is poisoned, that individual dies instead of the king. If it is of a poor taste, the servant ensures the right thing is done before the king is served. To a large extent, we can say this servant's life is used to redeem that of the king.
I see the employees of every organization like this wine-taster.
The wine taster role is a very critical one in the palace because a city without a king is vulnerable. Same goes for the business and I am sure you would agree with me. What I have seen around is that most people pay lip-service to true employee motivation and engagement. I know different things motivate employees and it can sometimes be hard to define but truth be told, employees know when they are valued! The same way human beings know when they are being treated with contempt/honour, employees know when the business pays more attention to the machinery/fixed assets than to the people or to the end-users than to the people.
We have put in systems in place to ensure that our customers get nothing but the best but how about the people designing the systems? In a country where unemployment is very high, it is a gross abuse for an employer to think keeping an employee in a job is doing such person a favor by keeping them in a job but I seriously bet to disagree! No one is doing anyone a favor! In fact, if anyone is being done a favor, it is the employer!
An organization should see itself as a system that delivers value holistically! Value to employees, employees to customers and customers to the employer.
Never rob Peter to pay Paul! Do not think satisfying your teeming customers can redeem your bad employer brand reputation. You cannot have happy customers with sad or disgruntled employees! If as an employer, you cannot see that now, you must be using the thickest of lenses or you must be living in self denial! Treating customers right at the expense of your staff is nothing but sheer hypocrisy.
Your employees are resources to help you achieve your organisation's vision. Remember the 4 factors of production? Land, Capital, Entrepreneur and Labour? Employees are a key factor in your production process! In fact, an employee today can be competition tomorrow or your brand ambassador!
Treat them right and see your king would be delighted!
Dupe is a highly experienced, innovative and intuitive Leadership, Learning and Talent Development Management Professional, with a proven track record of success working within high profile multi-national organizations.
You can reach her on LinkedIn here.