NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Workplace: If You Want Your Employees to Treat Customers Well, Treat Your Employees Well

It seems it should just be common sense that, as a boss, if you want your employees to provide good customer service, you should model this behavior by treating your employees well. And, yet, many workplace managers just don't get it. There's a big disconnect between the behavior they model with employees and their expectations about how they want these same employees to treat customers.

If You Want Your Employees to Treat Your Customers Well, Treat Your Employees Well

As a psychotherapist, I hear from clients all the time about managers who are verbally abusive or who mistreat employees in other ways. These managers model bad behavior towards their employees, but they expect their employees to turn around and provide excellent customer service to customers.

When I refer to treating employees well, I'm not necessarily referring to giving employees big salary increases. Of course, it's always great to get a raise.

 But, based on what I hear from clients, money is important, but it's even more important to be treated, at the very least, with basic respect and common courtesy. This should be a no-brainer, but for many managers, it's not.

As a consumer, I often observe this phenomenon for myself in many different kinds of stores. You can often tell when you walk into a store (or any other workplace setting) whether employees are being treated well.

 Employees who are being treated well by management tend to be more open and helpful with customers. They often want to go the extra mile with customers. In those same work settings, there's usually an overall pleasant and professional environment.

In workplaces where employees are not being treated well by management, you can almost always feel it in your interactions with employees.

For instance, a cashier, who is belittled and demeaned by the boss, frequently doesn't make eye contact with customers. He often seems harried. The overall environment is usually tense and unpleasant. The owner might be ingratiating with customers, but if you observe his behavior with employees, it's often gruff and condescending. It's not unusual to see him standing over them and micro-managing their work.

As a customer, this is a very unpleasant experience. When I encounter this, I don't want to linger to browse--I want to get out of there as soon as possible.

I can remember times, years ago, when I was a human resources manager, when employees in these types of workplaces would offer me their resumes when the boss wasn't around.

They would tell me how unhappy they were, and they'd asked me if I had any openings or if I knew of anyone who had job openings. My heart went out to them, but I didn't have jobs to offer them.

Aside from how indicative this is of poor employee morale, what does this say about management? My sense was that these employees' supervisors, who weren't treating employees well, were also not being treated well by their managers.

There's an old Italian saying, which my grandmother used to say in situations like this, "The fish rots from the head down." Often what you observe on the lower echelons of management, with some exceptions, you will find on the upper end as well.

I realize this is a generalization, but poor management often cascades from the top, especially where mistreating employees is tolerated. In well-run organizations, managers who don't know how to maintain good employee relations with the staff are let go.

Well-run organizations don't tolerate a manager's bad behavior towards employees, if they know about it. And if they don't know about it, they should.

 In a well-run organization, top management knows that how they treat their employees will affect the bottom line. They don't have to be altruists to know that reasonably satisfied employees usually reflect their satisfaction in their work and interactions with customers. It just makes good business sense.

When I was in my 20s, I worked for an exceptional manager who took an interest in the career goals of each person who worked for him. We were part of a hospital, which gave the same across the board salary increases based on whatever unionized employees received, even though we were not unionized employees in this department.

So, other than getting a promotion, which I did over time, this manager couldn't reward us with extra money. But, he knew that treating employees well in other ways would, most likely, boost morale and ensure that we would provide good service to our "customers" (other departments within the hospital). He was an unusually creative manager and he found ways to incorporate tasks that were of interest to his employees.

For instance, if an employee was interested in improving her public speaking skills, he would give her the task of doing a small presentation during the staff meeting.

Needless to say, the overall work environment was very good, and this manager's boss was also a supportive individual who encouraged growth and development from the people who reported to him. This engendered loyalty and hard work among employees.

In some companies, where there are 360 performance evaluations (where managers rate employees, employees rate their managers, and peers rate each other), managers are usually more aware of how they treat employees because they don't want poor evaluations.

Anecdotally, I know of managers, who were in companies where they do 360 evaluations, who were fired because their employees gave them poor evaluations. Top management wasn't t interested in keeping them on and risking employee lawsuits.

So, while it might not be "rocket science" that you need to treat your employees well if you want them to treat your customers well, many short-sighted bosses just don't get it. This often results in unfavorable consequences for their employees, the business and, often, for themselves.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist who provides psychotherapy services, including dynamic talk therapy, EMDR, clinical hypnosis, and Somatic Experiencing. 

I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.