"They can't see the Forest for the Trees"

by Scott J. Simmerman

According to Robert Fulghum ("All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten", 1986), villagers in the Solomon Islands practice a unique form of logging. Woodsmen with special powers creep up on large trees at dawn and suddenly scream at the top of their lungs, continuing this process for 30 days. At the end of this time, the tree is dead and falls to the ground. According to the natives, it works every time -- the tree loses its spirit and dies.

And, based on some national statistics, at least a few managers must use a similar philosophy when it comes to service management. Service workers often seem stressed out, employee turnover is often high, and whole industries are having trouble caring for customers. And it's hard to care for customers if you don't feel your boss cares for you.

According to statistics, only 1 in 4 workers feel that managers do a good job of retaining top performers and only 50% of managers feel their companies treat them with respect (Hay Group, 1989). Kanter and Mirvis (1989) found fully 51% of people under 21 are cynical about institutions and others. And while 92% of the CEOs feel that customer service quality is very important for their company's success, only 54% of vice presidents feel that employee satisfaction is important. And so forth.

And many wonder why service quality in America isn't any better than it is and why many companies don't do a better job of building loyalty of customers and employees.

The morale of this story?

As service managers, leaders and people developers, we need to be constantly aware of the importance of positive management practices for building employee loyalty and self-esteem. These are critical for gaining customer loyalty and growing bottom-line profits.

The goal of every business should be the attraction and retention of customers and employees.

How does your organization handle your trees?

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