employee vpLAST WEEK I talked about marketing to your customers, versus actually delivering what you promise.

It turns out that this is even more critical for your employee base.

If you screw up with a customer, you can convince yourself that there’s plenty more where they came from.

But a disenfranchised worker has little, or even negative, productivity.  They drag everyone around them down.  They drive customers away.  They can destroy the company.

This isn’t about giving your folks “happy juice” to bribe them into feeling good.  They see the truth of what your business looks like from the inside, so whitewashing over mistakes and problems just gets you into deeper troubles.

When you ignore a mistake, your people understand that it’s now OK to make more mistakes like that.  If you take advantage of a customer or partner, employees interpret that as the true character of the business.  They’ll either do more of that, or leave because of the internal conflict they experience.

Who leaves?  The people with a strong sense of right and wrong.  But those were the ones you want most, right?

Even more than what you say and show customers, what your employees see quickly becomes the culture.  This means you have to be gutsy and show actions which reinforce your values and principles.  You can’t wimp out.

Does that mean you come down like a ton of bricks on someone who made a minor mistake?  I hope not, because that says your culture is intolerant of human frailties and you’re a super perfectionist.

Instead, the consequences have to be appropriate to the circumstance.  Maybe it’s a deep discussion, or a problem-solving session, with extra effort to address the consequences.

Which says a lot about YOUR character.


I help owners and leaders to create amazing companies.  If you want to lead an organization with great character, let’s talk!  carl.dierschow@smallfish.us.

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