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Business Information by Gladys Edmunds

Business Information by Gladys Edmunds
At age 15 Gladys developed a travel service that would prosper for more than 30 years. She is a national award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist. Visit her at

How You Treat Workers Affects How They Will Treat Customers

How You Treat Workers Affects How They Will Treat Customers

Recently I had breakfast with a friend whom I will call Christy. She manages an in-house customer satisfaction-training department for her company. Christy was distressed because of recent orders from her boss to change the way she rewarded employees for work well done.

According to Christy, employees are required to go through regular customer service and satisfaction training. In order to keep their training fresh in their minds, they vote for each other via secret ballots for the colleague that has done the most effective job for the month. The employee with the most votes get to park in a privileged parking spot for the month and receives a cash bonus.

Christy’s supervisor says effective immediately when she counts the ballots if the winner is someone who has won in the past, she should select someone who hasn’t won before. According to Christy, his rationale for this is that the employee might be booted into doing a better job. Christy was upset because it seemed unfair to her.

After Christy told her story, I recommended that she review the copy of Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which I gave her as a gift when she took the job.

No modern-day management guru has been more forthcoming about these kinds of problems in the workplace than Mr. Covey. The theme of his work is centered on character and effectiveness.

He tells a memorable story about a restaurant that was famous for clam chowder. He relates how, when new owners came on the scene they, watered down the clam chowder, thus reducing sales and eventually failing. Mr. Covey’s work makes a direct and important connection between character and effectiveness.

In order to be effective, we need to be of good character. And good character entails a high standard of integrity and follows good ethics. A decline in our character results in a decline in quality of work and loss of customers. In other words, how effective your business and employees are directly tied to the employer/supervisor’s character.

In Christy’s case effectiveness and character is at play here. I can understand her supervisor’s desire to encourage employees who are coming up short to do a good job. In the meantime, it also brings the supervisor’s integrity and ethics into question. What is ironic about this situation is that the employees are being trained in providing good customer relations and reward – supposedly – for doing so.

My guess is that employees will treat your customers in the exact way that their employer treats them. So, the very last thing we want to do is to put ethics and integrity on the line by falsifying awards and bonuses. It is also safe to assume it will not take long before the word gets out that the winners are not always the true winners who have received the majority vote.

I suggested that Christy might suggest to her supervisor that more than one award be offered –one for the true winner and one for the person who tried harder. But like Christy, I found it a bit disconcerting that her supervisor would suggest tampering with the ballot. This maneuver could become a situation like the clam chowder story and end with disaster.

I reminded her that if she failed to make an impression on her supervisor she could always give a copy of Mr. Covey’s book and place a bookmark on the chapter that discusses the PC (Production Capability) principle that clearly states that you should treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.

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