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R-e-s-p-e-c-t

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Our company has learned a great lesson in self-discipline in the last quarter -- one that has resulted in improved morale, increased customer service, and better client relationships. I can boil it down to one word: respect.

We all remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's simple enough in theory, but I know I'm not alone in having to remind myself of its importance from time to time. Our company has worked hard to get to the point where we can choose who we work with -- we know we're fortunate to have this opportunity and we do so carefully. Even with this luxury, like every company, we find ourselves with a small number of clients who are consistently challenging or difficult to please.

The natural reactions to difficult clients are frustration, negative talk, and defensive behavior, which are certainly not healthy. We knew this was a problem, but we weren't sure what to do to fix it. We decided to tackle the issue head-on to avoid a downward spiral of negativity. After all, our job is to help our clients make money for both of us'¶ they pay us to do so!

At the beginning of the year, we committed to a positive feedback campaign to focus on over Q1. We had just updated our core values, and respect ranked high on that list. The first course of action was to commit to calling each other (and ourselves) out when frustrations turned negative. This wasn't very hard for us to do, but it was a great exercise.

Next, we resolved to have every employee recognize the positive attributes of a client and/or their project through a company-wide email. We assigned each of our 32 employees one day to send out their positive feedback over the course of the first quarter'¶ so the entire staff received a couple of e-mails of this nature each week. The results of this campaign were overwhelming! Each positive feedback e-mail shared interesting stories about our customers that the employees not working directly on a project wouldn't have otherwise known and brought the entire staff closer to our clients.

The measureable results from this initiative include improved customer service, client satisfaction, and client relationships. What I can't measure, but can attest to, is the improvement in office mojo. The positive vibe is contagious and drastically improves workplace morale.

This is an easy policy that I recommend everyone institute. In a culture where it's cool to be sarcastic, pithy, and snarky, it's not a constructive behavior in the office. Why be negative when it's just as easy to be positive -- and it has great side effects!

Last updated: Feb 27, 2009




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