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SamTastic Weekly Tip: 1/23/23 - Teachers and Staff, First?

This week’s tip: Teachers and Staff, First?


School leadership is a bit different than business. Training of school leaders usually makes student outcomes the top priority. Some districts, admirably, use the slogan, Children First to make clear what is valued.


Billionaire and business mogul Richard Branson suggests that a leader’s top priority should be employees first.


“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”


His point: in order to have the outcome a business owner wants, increased sales and growth, the leader must focus on employee satisfaction. “Branson created a non-hierarchical, family-like environment in which people love coming to work. His simple philosophy is that, if your employees are happy and enjoy what they do, they will be productive. Consequently, the customers will enjoy their experience with your company and keep coming back for more.” Complete Inc. article at the end of today’s SamTastic Weekly Tip.


We say “Children First” in schools, but the principle Branson shares is important to consider. A school leader improves student outcomes indirectly by working with teachers to improve practice. If teachers do not feel valued, happy and enjoy what they do, it is unlikely children will benefit.


Semantics? Maybe. Important? Absolutely. Perhaps it should be Teachers First Benefits Children


Inc. article, below.


It Took Richard Branson a Few Words to Teach the Best Leadership Lesson You Will Hear Today

What should be a company's top priority to grow a business? Billionaire Richard Branson has a simple answer.

BY MARCEL SCHWANTES, INC. CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AND FOUNDER, LEADERSHIP FROM THE CORE@MARCELSCHWANTES


Business leaders have been grappling with an important question for decades: How do you increase customer loyalty and satisfaction so that they (customers) repeatedly purchase from you versus your competitors?


This is a good question but it's the wrong question to ask if you're looking to scale your business. The question should emphasize the employee side of the equation: how do you increase employee loyalty and satisfaction so that they repeatedly do the kind of work that drives customer retention?


How you treat and take care of your employees is directly correlated to how your customers are treated and feel about your business. This will become one of the most important strategic decisions business leaders will have to make moving forward. But don't just take my word for it.


Sir Richard Branson's leadership lesson


The billionaire business magnate and founder of the Virgin Group, which today controls more than 400 companies in various fields, including Virgin Galactic, said this:


Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.


In an age where shareholders still rule, Branson is a rare breed of leader who believes that employees should be given top priority, ahead of shareholders and customers alike. In turn, he has created a non-hierarchical, family-like environment in which people love coming to work. Branson's simple philosophy is that, if your employees are happy and enjoy what they do, they will be productive. Consequently, the customers will enjoy their experience with your company and keep coming back for more.


Simply put, as research will attest, there's a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. Happy employees equal happy customers. And employees should be the driving factor behind a business's customer satisfaction.


This new work model, which my company teaches, is a bottom-up, not top-down, leadership approach. It's where managers are trained to serve front-line employees first--the ones who are closest to the customer.


But to do that, managers must first have a basic understanding of human motivation and the key factors that drive employee satisfaction. In the course we teach front-line managers, we emphasize three strategies that will get businesses to their goal of growing and retaining their customer base:


1. Help employees feel connected at work

Research continues to explore and validate the critical link between employee connectedness and employee engagement. Human resources leaders now are faced with addressing connection gaps in the workplace because it is core to their employees' happiness as human beings.


The Connection Gap study published last year by Blueboard found that nearly three in five employees would consider leaving their job if they didn't feel connected at work. In addition, while 85 percent of HR leaders agree or strongly agree connection is critical for their organization's success, only 4 percent of HR respondents strongly agree that they've adequately addressed the challenges with employee connection at work. Leaders recognize the importance of connection in the workplace, but admit they have not taken adequate action to foster it.


What does it mean to feel connection in the workplace? Blueboard came up with a four-part definition of a connected workplace, which is one where employees feel:

  • Connected to the company's mission, values, and leadership vision

  • Connected to their co-workers and managers through authentic relationships

  • Connected to their work, feeling that they have a positive impact on the company's goals

  • Connected to their personal aspirations: that they're growing and developing in ways that mean something to them


2. Give lots of praise and recognition

Managers have to get into the habit of praising and complimenting their people for their good qualities and work. This is consistent with research. The companies in Gallup's study with the highest engagement levels use recognition and praise as powerful motivators to get their people's commitment. In fact, workers who receive praise on a regular basis -- like once per week -- increase their individual productivity, receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers, and are more likely to stay with their organization.


3. Improve employee well-being

It's no longer possible -- if it ever was -- to ignore the rest of our lives while being productive at work. Leaders and managers that fail to prioritize employee well-being can expect to see rising rates of absenteeism and presenteeism, the latter of which is defined by the Harvard Business Review as "being on the job but, because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning." Well-being has traditionally been handled by HR, but it should be on the agenda of every manager and leader as a driver of company growth.


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