How Building Your People Skills Can Build Your Company

Lead by example in how you treat customers, employees and vendors.

Have you ever barked at someone through your speakerphone (i.e. bad phone etiquette)? Or have you ever purposely made a vendor wait for a long time before you answered their phone call? Or have you ever had someone enter your office and you don't even get up from your desk to greet them?

Bad manners? Absolutely. What’s even worse is that it is just bad business. An owner/operator's gruff treatment of a customer, vendor or employee is one of the best ways to teach employees the wrong way to deal with people.

Why bad manners happen and sometimes never stop

So why do so many owners and managers persist in behaving this way? One reason is that they don’t totally realize they are doing it.

Many times customers and employees are reluctant to tell the company owner that he is out of line. The customer would rather take his or her business elsewhere than confront the offensive person. Then, for a long time afterwards, the customer tells as many people as possible about the incompetent idiot who runs the company with whom he or she previously did business. In the case of the employee, he or she would rather get along by going along, until something better comes along and they leave.

Occasionally, the customer will challenge the owner/operator or some brave employee will quit. Of course, the egotistical owner will simply think that the customer is just hard to please and that the employee is unruly. Many times, the owner is a very sensitive individual who has simply developed a hard-shell personality to serve as a shield against those who disagree with him.

How to fix the problem

There are some owners/operators who think it is important to send their people to a one-day seminar, or bring in a consultant to speak to their employees, in order to resolve the problem of serving their customers properly. While this approach is a good place to start, smart owners will recognize that in order to expect courteous service from their employees, they themselves will need to consistently set the example. They will do it by reading the right books, attending the right training programs, and encouraging their employees to do likewise.

When the owner/operator attends many of the same seminars and training programs that his or her employees attend, this action does two things. First, it lets employees know that the training sessions contain enough important information for everyone to attend. Secondly, it gives the owner of the company an opportunity to learn some things he or she probably didn’t know. Remember the old saying, “School is never out for the pro.”

In my preparation for my consulting assignments, or in company training pro­grams I conduct, it is always a joy when I discover that the owner/operator is one who walks the talk. What the owner expects the employees to do is something he or she has been doing for many, many years.

Green industry companies practicing the philosophy that good service starts at the top will find that their customers and vendors will be happier and more faithful, and their employees more productive and dedicated. That is what I call real success.