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My employees are more important to me than my clients. Yup. Even more important than my clients.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I can almost always gauge the health of a firm when I walk into a reception area. If the receptionist is happy, professional, and can tell you the basics about the firm, it is almost always a healthy company.

Employees are very much the real heart and soul of most service enterprises and, certainly, of my own company Corporate Rain International. This is not to say I don’t love my clients. I do. I work for them with passion and zeal. I worry about them at night. I like them personally. They often become my friends. However, I can get clients. What is harder is developing a cadre of associates that truly brands and inculcates my firm’s ethics, quality, and essence in their very being. That is Corporate Rain’s real value and capital, and why companies hire and stay with my firm.

Ken Makovsky

I was reminded of this in recently reading Ken Makovsky’s excellent blog “My Three Cents” (January 27, 2010 – www.makovsky.com/blog). He states, “Employees are the face of the company.  They are the ambassadors who make a difference.” Makovsky goes on to cite a study in The New York Times that found strong sales growth was closely correlated with employees who thought more highly of their company than did society at large. Ken Makovsky is profoundly correct.  I’ve always believed every employee should be a rainmaker and a P.R. touch point.

Dr. Steven Balder of NYU (In Crain’s New York Business) has noted that great workplaces have in common a sense of community that  is built upon respect for the employee.  He says,  “People are seeking more than just a job.  [Good companies] are validating people and making them feel respected.” He goes on to state that such firms are much better suited to survive the current recession. (I personally  try to be bluntly honest with my own associates in explaining my company’s financial basics, as we work our way through this “Great Recession”.) There is mutual respect and a sense of a communal shared risk in embracing this process. A culture of respect and equality activates the acceptance of entrepreneurial vision and leadership and the empowerment of collaborative, creative, vibrant business enterprise.

If you are interested in reading further on this subject try The Power of Respect by Deborah Norville, the anchor of Inside Edition.  She concludes her useful book with these words:

“If you run a business, why wouldn’t you want your employees to be more creative, to be more loyal, to give that little extra to their job—especially when all it takes to encourage it is to let people do their jobs with a little acknowledgment of what they do and recognition of their efforts….Consideration, deference, and inclusiveness require nothing but a respectful mindset.”

Thank you, Deborah.

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