 Clients do not come first. Em­ploy­ees come first. If you take care of your em­ploy­ees, they will take care of the clients.

Dubbo Photo News - - Sport - Beau Robinson

A GREAT trait that I see in the bet­ter lead­ers is that they are quite pro­tec­tive and de­fen­sive of their team.

I have been work­ing with lead­ers who have very high stan­dards and ex­pec­ta­tions of their team, yet when they feel that they are be­ing at­tacked or scru­ti­nised by ex­ter­nal stake­hold­ers, and that these aren’t war­ranted, these lead­ers will quickly jump to the de­fence of their team.

These lead­ers know and be­lieve what their team is ca­pa­ble of and they have their full con­fi­dence that their team can de­liver.

A cou­ple of weeks ago I was talk­ing to one of these lead­ers who is fac­ing pres­sure from one of their clients about un­re­al­is­tic dead­lines, with the client not giv­ing enough time to pre­pare the project be­fore the dead­line, even though they had been asked to de­liver in­for­ma­tion a few weeks prior. This client was quite de­mand­ing and would put pres­sure on the team, not nec­es­sar­ily on the busi­ness owner.

Fi­nally, it got too much for this leader. They in­formed the client that they would not ac­cept this pres­sure or these un­re­al­is­tic dead­lines in the fu­ture. There was a clear process and guide­lines that both par­ties needed to ad­here to, and even warned that if they no longer wanted to fol­low this process, then they would have to cease the busi­ness re­la­tion­ship, as they weren’t will­ing to con­tinue to work un­der these con­di­tions and un­war­ranted de­mands.

The say­ing that ‘the client or cus­tomer is al­ways right’ is to­tally false.

If the ma­jor­ity of your clients are happy, are re­peat clients and re­fer you, then that’s an indi­ca­tion that your team is per­form­ing. If the above in­stances are in­fre­quent, then that’s a sign that the is­sue is with the client, not your team.

There is prob­a­bly no big­ger or more pop­u­lar ad­vo­cate of this ap­proach than Richard Bran­son, the founder of Vir­gin. “Clients do not come first. Em­ploy­ees come first. If you take care of your em­ploy­ees, they will take care of the clients.”

It hap­pens all the time in pro­fes­sional sports, great coaches will of­ten come to the de­fence of their team and de­flect that crit­i­cism com­ing from fans or the me­dia. Some­times this crit­i­cism is war­ranted, of­ten it is not, with the me­dia try­ing to drum up some con­tro­versy and emo­tions.

That’s not to say that they won’t have a go or ad­dress the is­sues on the field with the team, but that’s af­ter re­view­ing the games or matches and un­der­stand­ing whether the crit­i­cism was jus­ti­fied or what the ac­tual is­sue was. Their num­ber one pri­or­ity is their team and their wel­fare and mind­set.

An­other leader I work with went so far as to ‘sack’ their client, for the benefit of the team’s wel­fare. This client had be­come ob­nox­ious, rude and abu­sive. The client had not been deal­ing with the busi­ness owner, but she was aware of the stress and pres­sure this par­tic­u­lar client was putting mem­bers of her team un­der, so she de­cided to take ac­tion and in­form them that they could no longer use her busi­ness’ ser­vice. No warn­ing at all.

Her team mem­ber came up and thanked her for sup­port­ing her and was so ap­pre­cia­tive that she had taken ac­tion. The team mem­ber also said that work­ing with that par­tic­u­lar client had re­ally drained her men­tally and emo­tion­ally.

This Emo­tional In­tel­li­gence and the abil­ity to sense and un­der­stand how your team is feel­ing is one of the most sought-af­ter traits in great lead­ers. These lead­ers gen­uinely care for the emo­tions and feel­ings of their team mem­bers, and is it any sur­prise that women gen­er­ally do bet­ter in re­gards to this?

When you pri­ori­tise your team over your clients and take ac­tion, it builds trust, loy­alty, re­spect and con­fi­dence in your team. The short fi­nan­cial down­fall will pay off ten­fold in the long term.

Are you will­ing to ‘sack’ your clients or cus­tomers if it’s in the best in­ter­ests of your team’s well­be­ing?  Beau Robinson is an Ac­tion Coach Busi­ness Coach and for­mer Su­per Rugby Cham­pion and Wal­laby. beau­robin­[email protected]­tion­coach.com

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