Applying the Golden Rule – With Our Customers & Employees

By Jerry Randecker and Chris Sitter

 

We’ve all been given the inspirational exhortation at various times in our lives to “Remember the Golden Rule”.  However, the way people are often treated nowadays in the marketplace, it almost makes you wonder if the “whoever has the most gold – rules” version of this saying is being applied more frequently than the rendition our parents grew up with.  You remember, the one that approximately reads:  “Treat others the way you would want to be treated”, or the more official version that’s been around for a couple millennia, which states:  “And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.”

This little saying has been the simple, foundational core for the “customer service” departments in the companies that made America great for well over 200 years.  That kind of treatment is what makes people want to come back – and do business with our companies again.  The department store manager, or the owner of the local automotive repair shop may have never posted that little saying on their walls (either in public view, or even in the break room), but their customers clearly “knew” when they were (and when they weren’t) being treated in a manner consistent with this famous and yet often unspoken guideline.

The Golden Rule has also been an underlying guide for the way we should treat our employees. As an executive search firm that’s been serving this industry for over 30 years, we’ve seen plenty of examples of companies on both sides of this golden mark.  Those who follow this guideline in the treatment of their employees, typically get to enjoy the thrill of presenting 10 and 20 year service awards to their faithful employees.  Those who don’t think it’s important often can’t figure out why they have so much turnover.  Employees at those firms secretly send their resume to search firms, and post it confidentially to Monster and CareerBuilder, in hopes of finding a company that understands (and practices) this basic principle.  They might not find that company right away – but when they do – there will be an empty box on someone’s organizational chart.

How about the way we treat those who “WANT” to work for our companies?  Let’s be sure to remember to treat them courteously, to respond to their e-mails in a timely manner, and to give them the respect “that we would want” if we were applying for that same opening.  As one long time industry professional who I used to work with regularly would say: “would I want my son or daughter to be treated that way?”  That’s a good general guide.  If you can answer yes, as you consider your companies treatment of job applicants – you’re probably doing fine in that category.

But we all know this principle, right?  Well…maybe.  But sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics, regarding how we treat those who allow us to continue to earn a living in this great industry.  Just today, I was reading a post on the Internet, made by a representative of a dealer for one of the largest heavy equipment OEM’s in America.  That post was reminding their readers that one of the days this week was National Good Neighbor Day.  I would imagine there are several hundreds of others who make, sell and fix the equipment that builds America, who agree that it would be good for us to keep this most basic concept – in the forefront of our minds.

If we do, our customers will notice – and they will come back.  Our employees will notice.  Our boss will notice.  Even our co-workers will notice.  And our personal implementation of this age-old practice will help our companies secure more loyal customers and more motivated, long-term employees.

It might be a tough statistic to swallow, but I wonder what percentage of our customers would give us the “golden” seal of approval – if we asked?

As it continues to get tougher and tougher to attract and retain top industry talent, perhaps it would be wise for all of us to remember the golden rule, as we examine our options for how our managers and employees will be treated in the months and years ahead. One thing is for sure: if they don’t get that warm and appreciated feeling that people experience when they’ve been given the “golden” treatment, they will certainly be keeping their eyes open for a company where this principle is truly understood.

By the time you read this, it will be over by almost a whole month, but even though it’s a few weeks late…Happy Good Neighbor Day!