I’ve been so busy traveling the past few weeks, I forgot to celebrate the third anniversary of my book’s release. Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care was published in October 2007, and sales are still going strong – despite the economy and because of it. As companies struggle to hold onto their business in this downturn, employee and customer engagement are more critical than ever.
In the past three years I traveled coast–to-coast to speak with business and nonprofit professionals who want to strengthen this engagement through internal marketing. What surprised me most is that while I met with marketing and human resources staff (as expected), my audiences were also filled with engineers, nonprofit managers, social workers, association executives, healthcare practice managers, municipal administrators, educators, and software consultants. They willingly shared “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of workplace engagement. (Little shocks me anymore … at the same time, I continue to be encouraged to hear what works.)
Looking back over the past three years, here’s what I’ve learned from these diverse audiences:
- Engaging employees and customers with internal marketing is intuitive, but not intentional enough – managers need reminders to “take care of employees to take care of customers.”
- Even with restructuring/downsizing/hierarchical flattening, too many organizational silos remain – employees continue to feel disconnected and disenfranchised.
- Management-by-wandering-around (MBWA) is making a comeback – while this practice isn’t as popular as it used to be, it hasn’t gone out of style.
Employees want and need to feel their work matters. Together with customers, they want to know that they are respected and valued.Why is this so difficult?