If you believe the movies, business is a world of corporate cut throats, prowling Wall Street looking for victims to fleece. We all know that our local businesses are nothing like that (in fact I doubt there are many in New Zealand like that), however we all still need to pause at times and remember that business is always just people dealing with people.
Staff, managers, owners, customers and suppliers are all just a collection of individuals, each trying to do the best they can for their organisation and themselves. In our ever changing world it’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day and forget the things that really matter. Call me an optimist, but I firmly believe that most of us genuinely agree that people matter.
Being a good employer is expected these days, both by staff and legislation. Employers know that it’s not just ticking a box, that there are real advantages to having a happy workforce. Staff quickly learn if you are genuinely interested in them or just playing the game as outlined in some text book. I find it odd that the reverse isn’t seen as so important – managers and owners are people too. They are important to the success of the business and it’s that success that flows onto employees. Bosses will never be perfect and traditionally as they were perceived to be ‘in power’, they were, if not the enemy, certainly not an ally. What really springs to mind about this is where business owners go to great lengths to look after their staff and ensure a healthy work life balance – and then work all hours themselves, striving to make the business a success. Somehow this needs to change. Business success is usually driven by the sheer hard work and commitment of the owner, but at what cost? Their health and their families matter as much as everyone else’s.
Sales should always be about solving a customer’s problem, not pushing your products onto them. Let’s be honest, we can all tell a story about a pushy or dodgy sales person that we simply wouldn’t transact with again (and often even their organisation is on our ‘no go’ list).
Trust and a long term relationship is often the result of being told by a sales person that while I could try using one of their products, it wouldn’t be ideal and that there are better options provided by X and Y. A potential sale lost but a repeat customer gained, with the added bonus of a story being told that tells others about your honesty and desire to do what’s best for the customer. No amount of advertising dollars can give you that!
Your suppliers may provide you with raw materials, but those materials aren’t who you transact with. The people behind those products can provide you with information and ideas to help grow your business or overcome issues you’re facing. The people add value to the product, something easily missed if you just focus on price.
Lastly I’d like to just touch on mental health. It’s an area I know very little about, apart from hearing the sad statistics around it but it’s something we need to open up about. This is especially true for us blokes, because in all honesty we’re simply terrible at seeking help. We’re not going to sit down with a “BFF” or social worker and share our problems until we find closure. Call it stubborn, pig headed or just not conditioned for that – it doesn’t matter. We need to find a way to address this (maybe a beer over a barbeque after a day’s fishing with a mate?). We’re losing too many good people to keep ignoring this issue.
All of the above is common knowledge and much has been written about this subject. People have designed models and fancy terms to describe what we should be doing. Personally I don’t think we need to get complicated about any of this. Treat people respectfully as people and I have no doubts that your business will gain from it. At CSC our values are summed up by “people over transactions”. Most of us do it, most of the time – how about all of us do it, all of the time!
First published by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce in their Cambridge News (10 November 2017)