Many years ago I was invited to attend an open house of a company celebrating their move into a new office facility. As I roamed from office to office and department to department, I was greeted by those working in that area with a similar message. “Welcome to the most important department of this company” after which they would proceed to explain what they did and how their contribution was so extremely important and valuable to their organization’s success.
There is no question that this made a big impact on me and one issue that continues to move front and center as I work within various organizations. Within a team wherein certain people and/or certain jobs are considered more important to the project or organizational goals than others there is a clear impact on the interest, energy and enthusiasm extended by all. And to the degree that this, in turn, is conveyed and felt by the customer, it will and does challenge the overall impact on the desired success.
What I am referring to is the value placed on each role and related responsibility by the organization and all participants. Of course certain jobs are going to require different skills and knowledge in order for them to be handled proficiently. However, if the various roles are viewed in a hierarchy of importance by those working together, this can and does lead to a devaluing of some in favor of others and this is what can take the effort off the desired course.
Let me provide some examples for you to consider.
Example # 1: Within the Sales Team/Department of Any Organization
Consider the outside sales people who make up the sales department. These are the ones who identify and call on prospects intent on turning them into customers. And once they succeed, the ongoing success and retention of that customer often relies on the inside support people which include administrative, operations/production and customer service staff. When this works like a well-oiled machine the customer feels supported and valued and is inclined to sing the praises of the organization.
However, when the outside sales team thinks of themselves as the only truly important key to success in terms of sales and retention it can be highly demoralizing to those providing support to the ongoing customer relationship. This, in turn, too often creates a revolving door in these support areas. And it is naïve of anyone associated to believe that this doesn’t matter to the customer. It is definitely costly in several ways and potentially undermines the success that is sought.
Example # 2: Within the Company in General
Most companies have many positions manned by individuals of varying skills, knowledge and experience. It could be sales, operations, accounting, production, reception or product delivery among others. To the extent that each person sees themselves and is seen by others as being critical to the success of the organization, things work the best. The receptionist is the first point of contact for the caller or the visitor and the impression created sets the tone and expectation of the customer. Similarly, the courier who delivers the purchased product to the customer as needed and expected, reinforces the value of the overall company to this customer. When it happens like this, it’s all good.
However, when that receptionist or courier are only considered less important to what the company is providing, it will work against the very attitude that is needed by all to deliver the excellence leading to the desired level of success.
Of course there are many such examples where the dichotomy can and does exist. The resulting story and outcome is always very similar. To the extent that each person on the team or within an organization is inclined to say “welcome to the most important office or position in the company” I believe the company has achieved a mindset and culture wherein each person knows and is recognized for their value to the overall success. This gives them a sense of genuine pride which translates extremely well to all customers. Perhaps it’s a good idea for all of us to look the house in which we are living. Is it built on a strong foundation that values the roll of all? Then you’re in a good situation with the best chance of reaching your intended success goal!
Desmond Tutu, a 1984 recipient of the Nobel Peace prize for the role he played in the end of Apartheid in South Africa made this quote: How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns? It’s a fair conclusion … it can’t.