Help your employees kick ass

June 29, 2009

I’m reading Pam Slim’s new book Escape from Cubicle Nation: from Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur. In a section where she describes the importance to the entrepreneur of looking for problems to solve, she credits blogger Kathy Sierra with taking that process one step further by asking “How can you help your users kick ass?”

It’s not what you sell, it’s what you teach that matters.  Or rather, what you help someone learn…..Kicking ass is more fun regardless of the task.  It’s more fun to know more.  It’s more fun to be able to do more.  It’s more fun to be able to help others do more (pp. 110-111).

We remember from the service-profit chain that unless you are a one person show, it’s your employees that will delight or disgust your customers.  Because we don’t want to leave customer delight to chance, we design systems with the purpose of exceeding customer expectations in every single transaction.

Hence, the single most important thing we need to do on a daily basis if we want to grow our business through excellence is to exceed the expectations of our employees, thus enabling and expecting them to treat our customers the way we have treated them.

From this perspective, one of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves as leaders is “how can I help my employees today be better prepared to impress the socks off our customers?”

Borrowing from Pam, that question now might be “how can I help my employees kick ass today?”  What can I help them learn?  What can I learn from them? What can I do to help them improve the processes they work with?  How can we leverage what we do impressively and uniquely well into other products and services, and how can we avoid over exposing ourselves to situations where we are not yet impressive?

Your employees will be more satisfied and committed if you enable them to kick ass at work, as opposed to getting the snot kicked out of them when they come to work.  If your employees are taking a beating at work, I can guarantee you that your top line is probably also taking a beating.

Design systems that purposefully impress our employees and customers.  Then hire the right folks to work with us, give them the tools they need to do their jobs (e.g. training) and partner with them to continuously improve our systems.  That’s our job.  That’s a leadership issue.

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