When you look at any great business, you will find that it’s people, that make it a great company. Great organizations are made up of excellent people. Success or failure boils down to whether we build meaningful relationships with employees, customers, vendors and shareholders. All life’s successes come from strengthening those relationships and maximizing the opportunities to build great organizations.
I have been in the hospitality business for almost 20 years. I started out as a server in a small deli restaurant in the Dallas area. I knew early on that people would always be at the heart of a successful business. You can have the best food and the best product, but people will always make the difference. The hospitality business is built on the foundation of people. We offer places to stay and places to dine, but without good people, we cannot thrive and keep our customers happy. Most importantly, we have to build a culture of excellence in order to create a great company.
At the end of the day, it about making people feel like a million bucks! Our employees and our customers want to feel great about themselves. They want to take away a positive experience that they can tell their friends and family about.
So how do we create those experiences of positive feelings for our people? How can we make them feel like a million bucks?
- Make them feel important
Every person is unique and has a story to tell. I truly believe that. A great leader makes people feel important. Each one of us wants to feel acknowledged and valued. Mary Kay Ash built a business empire around this concept. She said, “Whenever I meet someone, I try to imagine him or her wearing an invisible sign that says: Make me feel important.”
- Listen to their needs
Listening is the most important attribute of a good relationship. When you truly listen to an employee or a customer, you create trust by honoring their voice. You are giving them the space to share important feedback and concerns. Most importantly, you are interested in anticipating and hearing their needs.
- Appreciate and acknowledge them
Often times we take people for granted. We assume that they feel appreciated and loved. The truth is that many people are important and loved, but we don’t communicate it enough to them. Being told you are appreciated is one of the most encouraging thing to hear at the end of a long day. The truth is that someone is always doing something right. Someone is doing good. But, do we take the time to sincerely communicate it in a heartfelt way?
- Celebrate special moments
Great leaders are constantly finding ways to celebrate people’s success. Extraordinary leaders understand that there’s only one thing that makes people happy long term and that’s paying attention to the small wins. Leaders find the way to appreciate those small wins because it creates a sense of accomplishment with people. They are energized and it can build momentum for bigger wins.
- Go the extra mile
If you want to win with people, you have to do the work. It takes extra effort to do what’s right and make a meaningful impact. Think about the person that made an impact on your life. Did this person take the extra time to connect with you? Did this person stayed an extra hour to mentor you or believe in you? Same idea applies with customers. When you go the extra mile, they feel like you care about them and when you do, they become a raving fan!
- Add value to their experience
Helping others, giving something of ourselves are the keys to success and happiness in life. Anne Frank reminds us that, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” Adding value to others brings you opportunities to connect with people such as your team and customers alike. If you become known as someone who always looking to add value and find solutions, you’ll see your own value increased.
- Communicate effectively
Whether it’s employees or customers, you can never underestimate the power of effective communication. It’s easy to take communication for granted. Engagement and open communication is critical to create trust and credibility with both employees and customers. Leaders and employees need to be in synch to speak in the same voice. We need to encourage open dialogue with people to make them feel valued.
- Empathize with them
According to a recent study by the Center of Creative Leadership, “Empathy is not a fixed trait. It can be learned (Shapiro, 2002). If given enough time and support, leaders can develop and enhance their empathy skills through coaching, training, or developmental opportunities and initiatives.” (Empathy in the Workplace a Tool for Effective Leadership). Empathetic people can be very valuable to many organizations. They are able to effectively build and maintain relationships with both internal and external customers which is a critical part of leading organizations anywhere in the world.
- Follow up with them
According to Harvard Business Review, the biggest complaint that people have when dealing with any business is poor follow up. Nurturing relationships with people is a crucial part of growing a successful business. In this age of advancing technology and innovation, caring for people has never been more accessible and important. That’s why it’s even more important than ever to create an excellent experience for internal and external customer to help develop your company’s reputation.
- Create a win-win
Winning in life is not a one-man show. I am always looking for ways to create these winning partnerships in everything I do because I love to see if people can win doing the things we love to do, together. People want to be part of something meaningful. They want do something bigger than themselves. Good communication and honest dialogue about each person’s needs in the relationship, can create a win-win.