Wars have been waged and entire empires have fallen over the way a group of people views another. When I was growing up, my dad raised me to hate the Dallas Cowboys. I never watched the games or kept up with the stats, but I was trained to uncompromisingly hate them. My response was to look down upon Dallas Cowboy fans for supporting such an awful team and to promote a different team I also knew nothing about; the Saints.
The way that we manage perception amongst ourselves and with our employees is no different. If we complain or tell our employees how big of a jerk or idiot our customer is, without argument, they will believe it. If we tell them that the work is a waste of time or unrealistic, they will believe it. While this seems innocent enough, and even makes for some humorous shop talk, this can be incredibly dangerous.
These are some of the probable effects:
• Poor work quality – If the customer is a jerk, do they “deserve” an adequate effort on the employee’s part? If trained to dislike a customer, an employee will not value the work. Given the opportunity, the employee will cut corners to get back at the disliked customer in a vengeful manner, be rude to the customer in person or just produce poor work in general. These are all things we obviously don’t want.
• Poor morale – If an employee works in a district with very few customers (Corpus, Shreveport 1.2, Ohio…), and the leadership complains about the customer regularly, the employee can be immersed in negative conversations. Over time, this can diminish their value as an employee, but also damage their view of Edko. After all, who wants to work for a negative company that only serves crappy customers?
If we paint our customers in a poor light to our employees, we will essentially lose touch with the kind of company we are; a service company. Our entire job is to perform a service that our customers can’t or are not interested in performing themselves. Without customers, we have no work, which means we all go home. I would encourage everyone to revisit how we view our customers, how we communicate that view to our employees and remember that we are entirely a service provider.
To this day, I still have a subconscious disliking for the Cowboys, but at least it’s justified.