Who could be more important than your customer?

Marketing people constantly ask questions about the ideal customer avatar. Where do they hang out? What do they do? What do they like? What do they look like? The list goes on.

It’s important for any business to know the answers to these questions. But there is another group of people who are often just as important as – or even more important than – the ideal customer, and these are the staff we employ.

More than 25 years ago, the late Andy Grove of Intel wrote in his book, High Output Management, that the “soft professions” needed to take a more industrialised view of the way they operated. Manufacturing has primarily moved towards robots for labour and production, but the information economy and professional services still rely heavily on people.

If we have a machine – for example, a car – we understand what drives it, we know what needs to be done to keep it well maintained and officially running. Having a similar understanding of the people we employ – how they think, work and operate – can help us boost their motivation, retention and engagement. Once this is achieved, an increase in the business’s productivity and profitability will naturally follow.

It is not enough to simply conduct employee satisfaction or engagement surveys. These can be dangerous, particularly in small businesses, where people may not be honest because they fear the survey will not be anonymous or confidential. To ensure employees are genuinely engaged, we need to treat them as we would our customers. We need to know their avatar.

If we are to regard our employees as our customers and followers, then we must act as leaders. Leaders are proactive when it comes to gaining an understanding of their employees. Using a form of psychometric testing, such as the Extended DiSC® behavioural assessment tool, has several great benefits:

  • It reveals the employee’s inner persona and what motivates and demotivates them.
  • It gives us ways to communicate with them efficiently.
  • It can indicate whether they are under stress and what their stress indicators are.
  • It provides tools for dealing with employee stress, so they are more effective at work.

It’s also important to consider the six core needs of human psychology: certainty, variety, significance, love and connection, growth and contribution. Are your employees’ psychological needs being met? How could your workplace be improved?

Just as we purchase computer packages and pay for regular upgrades, we must also look at the investment we make in our employees. Do their soft or personal skills and technical skills need an upgrade?

I help business owners gain clarity on their employee issues. Email me at bryan@bryanworn.com.

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