What are your priorities?  Do I need to ask?  If I look at the actions of you or your organization, shouldn’t I be able to determine your priorities in life or business?

In my experience in the business world, it seems most companies talk about their priorities something like this:

  1. Customer satisfaction
  2. Employee satisfaction
  3. Product quality
  4. Enhanced profitability

However, most businesses demonstrate actions that communicate the following priority list:

  1. Enhanced profitability
  2. Product quality, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction…..take your pick.

What I mean is, most companies talk a good line but walk another one, and then they wonder why they struggle to keep customers, struggle to slow turnover rates of employees and struggle to build a solid financial base so that they aren’t constantly chasing profitability. You would think that business would have learned the lesson by now but, low and behold, they just can’t accept something as touchy-feely as the fact that organizations with the best long-term success have a value system that makes people, both customers and employees, the first priority.

This philosophy means that leaders must understand that what they do directly affects what employees do and what employees do directly affects customers.  This style of leadership is time consuming and not a quick fix but the results speak for themselves.

Take for example a company like Southwest Airlines.  Southwest has always espoused a culture that is employee and customer focused, and it comes directly from the leadership at the top.  I have spoken to many of their employees and the overwhelming majority speak about how well they are treated and how it has influenced the way they treat customers.  As a regular customer myself, I can vouch for the great service they talk about and to the fact that I rarely see a Southwest employee that seems unhappy.  “Yes, but what about Southwest’s financial position?” you may be harrumphing.  Southwest to my knowledge has never had an unprofitable quarter in 30 years.

So, what’s your business priority, things, money or people?

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