If you want to foster and maintain an extraordinary relationship with your customers, you must first strive to foster and maintain an extraordinary relationship with your teammates. Creating a ”teammate centric” environment can work wonders in any organization. The word teammate is one I use with colleagues, no matter the title printed on their business card.
A short but consequential story comes to mind when I think about this topic. When I was working for an innovative consumer products company, the organization had increased its’ teammate count from 9 to 90 in three years and we needed to move to a larger facility. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to grab a space in the Columbus Center by the Inner Harbor. The environment was unique. The only rooms that had walls were the conference rooms and the janitor’s closet. What were considered our outside walls, were floor-to-ceiling windows that captured the majestic beauty of the harbor. There were only a few seats that did not have this amazing view, and ironically enough they were adjacent to the janitor’s closet….and conveniently enough, there were only a few of us at the C-level. Now as the leaders of the company, we were establishing a business of “value” for all who participated and wanted to deter any notion of “The Great Unwashed.” Therefore, our teammates received the prime locations with waterfront views and the leaders did business with the grandiose view of the janitor’s closet. It was amazing to see that everyone quickly embraced the open-space concept and no one elected to turn the janitor’s closet into an office. Everyone that came to see us made sarcastic remarks about our less than ideal seating locations. Yet, there was a lack of surprise by our teammates about us sitting there. This small physical act showed that we cared for the team and that we recognized them as the true drivers of our business. In fact, that year our Company was recognized by Inc. Magazine as the 9th fastest growing company in the country.
Through the years, I’ve tried a number of best business practices to increase productivity with my teams, but the golden thread I found is simple: Treat “human capital” as an asset on the balance sheet, not an expense in the income statement. The leaders, who build true value in an organization, show that they genuinely care for their group through large and small acts, and reap the greatest returns when teammates start finding it common place. Please share how you treat “Human Capital” as an asset. I’d enjoy hearing your powerful stories.