Is there one thing your customers, employees, friends, and family all have in common — one thing they all want from you? Your relationship may be very different with each group of people in your life, and their needs and expectations do vary. But in fact there is something that all of us desire, and if you can provide it, you'll come out ahead in every interaction you have with people. That one bit of relationship magic that can do so much is providing a sense that the other person is valued.
Entrepreneurs and managers of every sized business are always looking for a way to get a leg up on the competition, improve performance and productivity, and increase customer loyalty. They buy books and programs about leadership and management; they attend seminars on effective communication; and they research the latest customer service data. But if you're able to show your customers, employees, and peers that you value them, and they really believe it, you'll experience higher loyalty from clients and staff, and you can truly transform your business.
Recognizing Someone's Value
Communicating that you value someone is important for building a strong relationship. But before you can do that, you need to truly recognize the value others have. That starts with respecting the people you deal with every day, and noticing and appreciating their contributions to your business. Too often, managers and owners develop an "us versus them" mentality when it comes to employees, and even customers. When that starts to happen, it's imperative to step back and identify where that feeling is coming from, and then work on changing your focus to the value those groups provide.
With customers, that should be pretty easy. It's almost cliché to point out that without them, you wouldn't have a business. When it comes to employees, it should also come easily, as they are surely contributing something to the organization. If not, you have a whole other challenge that needs to be addressed.
More than Words
Recognizing the value others bring to your business is an important first step. Now you need to let them know you value them. Feeling appreciated, understood, accepted, and important are necessary for all of us. In fact, in a number of studies conducted over the past 20+ years, feeling as though they matter to the company consistently outranks pay in importance among surveyed employees. The results among customer studies are similar. Most people are willing to spend more or go out of their way to deal with a company they feel values their business.
Telling someone how much you value them is great, but it isn't enough. This is one area where lip service won't have an impact like action will. If you have a sign hanging in your store or a paragraph on your website telling customers how much you value them, but take too long to get back to them when they contact you or make them jump through hoops to make a return, you've communicated how you really feel in your actions. If you value someone's time and their business, they can tell by how they're treated.
Likewise, a pat on the back when an employee does a great job is nice, but really showing them you value them as a part of your team comes from the policies you put in place and how you treat them overall. Giving someone more responsibility and treating them like a professional are clear signs you value them and will go much further than any kudos or platitudes.
People have a need to feel valued, and the company that understands that and acts on it has a huge advantage over those that don't. If you're not sure how people around you feel about the level of value you place on them, it's time to find out. And it might be time to make some changes to the way you're communicating how you feel about the value others provide.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.