The purpose of a business is to make money, and because you have a fiduciary responsibility to your stockholders you should consider them first. Oh, wait a minute...don't customers come first? The customer is king, after all. And we live for our customers...and all that jazz.

Then again, aren't people our most valuable asset?

So which is it?

I recently had a debate with an associate of mine where we agreed that ultimately a business must make money. (Obviously.)

But we disagreed on whether as leaders we should think first about the needs of our employees or those of our customers. Here's my take in a nutshell: your team will never exceed the expectations of your customers until you first exceed the expectations of your team. Some of the things you should keep in mind are:

Pool tables and lava lamps look good, but they're only a veneer. Policies and processes that respect people matter more.

Policies and processes matter, but it's the way you treat people that counts.  So here are some unique ways to show employees that you care about them, all of which we practice at Blinds.com:

1.       Turn your Employees Into Heroes

We use digital signage around the office displaying our standout employees for the month and their record-breaking KPI's.  The displays look like a sports channel and the employees are shown in video next to their stats.

We also Photoshop every employee into their favorite movie poster, whether it's the Godfather, Indiana Jones, or Just Friends. 

2.       Share Information

Every Thursday, we have an all-hands meeting that is also broadcasted to our work-from-home employees.  I want to make sure that we don't surprise anyone and that we continue to maintain a human connection.  It's also where every employee introduces themselves to the company with a song, dance, or joke .  They can get very creative!  It's a great way to get personal and understand more than someone's skill, but a little of who they are.

3.       Feed the Masses

One way that our culture shows we care is to provide food for everyone.  When things get busy around here, lunch shows up (and sometimes dinner).  There's always snacks laying around and there's a way to buy what you need while you're in the office.  We also eat a lot of cake.  Another way that you can "feed" your employees is to remember personal information and have better conversations than "good morning" and "how was your weekend?"  People instantly recognize when effort is put into getting to know them.

4.       Create Interaction Opportunities

Every new employee at Blinds.com is sent on a Scavenger Hunt the first day around the office, armed with a list of seemingly difficult questions about the company and its employees, and they can only ask each person two questions.  By the end of the afternoon, they've met 20-25 employees and know a lot about our culture and our history.  We also hold Quick Chats (think speed dating!), where leadership from different departments is available to meet and get to know employees in other groups.

5.       Recognize and Nurture Talent

At Blinds.com we are quick to recognize employees who have the makings of a rising star and we are trying to focus more and more on talent development.  Each manager holds one-to-one meetings with their employees every month to focus on their growth and development.  We also put heavy investment into training and personal growth.  Last week, we had six employees go through three days of meeting facilitation training, and then invited them into our senior leadership meeting to facilitate.  They really pulled it off quickly!

Oh, and remember to have fun!

One of our Core Values is to "Enjoy the Ride."  Our Culture Committee and our Employee Engagement Director regularly plan activities to have fun around the office, whether it's flag football, Pajama Day, or a charity event.   There is something happening around here almost every week celebrating life, each other, or our gratitude. And it can be infectious.  I'm really looking forward to Employee Appreciation Week....I heard there might be massages.

Published on: Apr 8, 2016
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