The article I wrote on compliments has been downloaded and printed a few thousand times I want to add to it to ensure you have the tools to help this value-adding idea to your own business philosophy. There is more than just being polite to getting compliments, although that is a good place to start. There is an ideology that many small business owners and managers fail to notice and so fail to foster in their employees. Business Bulldog, Inc. was started to help get businesses back to the basics and grow with time-tried, recognizable ways of growing. It is what helped start the best businesses around. It is also the path that businesses that do not worry about what people have to say about them use.
To just read the above paragraph and think you understand how to get compliments would be a mistake. There is a school of thought that guides the best in business that must not only be understood, but lived. It is something that all good people know in their heart and live by. It can be broken down to one simple, yet profound word. It usually makes owners cringe and fail to see it’s worth and for employees to throw out of their vocabulary after the first hour on the job.
Compliments are broken down into three parts: the actions that bring about a compliment, the action of giving a compliment, and the context in which it is received.
Very often we hire “warm bodies”. I mean – the people needed just to keep things going. They fill a spot on the schedule, but do not really make things better. Kind of a “space filler” on the payroll. I call them a waste of space since I would not hire someone I did not see helping the culture of my organization. All employees are a representation of the brand. If you do not think so, you are in for a rude awakening when things go bad and you need everyone to step up and help with jobs they do not normally do or were hired to do. Want to see just how cranky the person who normally unloads trucks can get when asked to answer a phone? A quick check – - would you be comfortable letting anyone in your organization tell a news reporter about your business? If that answer is no, you have “warm bodies”.
“Warm bodies” are the reason most places do not get compliments. They drag down the rest of the employees who want to be proud of the company and the job they do. I have seen far too many organizations that think that is the only way to keep the business going. The reason I have heard is, “Employees do not want to do any more than they have to. You have to push them to get anything done around here.” That is the business with the going out of business sign on the front door and the merchandise being stolen by employees when the boss turns his back. The culture there is “I don’t trust you”.
So, how do you start trusting people when your organization is geared to pushing and dragging crew to do their job? The first step is to change the way you look at your business. Why did you get into business? Was it for a short term gain or for the long haul? Businesses built for the long haul are the only ones we work with. Why start with you? Because you are the driving force in your organization. If you make it important, the employees will see it as important. Make your actions compliment worthy. The rest of your team should see this as a clear path for them to follow. It is also easy to see where your weak link is when you are acting professionally and expect others in your organization to act similarly.
We have mentioned a few times that getting compliments should be an easy task for your customers. How many businesses do you visit each week that do not have a way (an easy way) for you to give feedback? That is where you need to spend a few budgeted dollars (or for our international friends euros, dinars, etc.). Find ways to get customers to give you their honest opinion. Walk around your store and ask, place a phone call to a recent customer, give surveys, or have a third party ask. I do not recommend using it as part of a promotion – you give us a score and we will give you a chance to win a prize. There are too many ways for that to muddy the message.
Finally, how are you going to receive the message. By that I mean, what are you going to do with the information? If you are going to just look at it and thunder orders to your front line crew, forget it. You don’t make changes that matter by pushing your team. Either they are part of the answer or you are fooling yourself into thinking you are a leader. If you want to use the information to make changes that will change your business, post the best examples of compliments that show the path you want your team to follow. The feedback that is not a compliment is valuable too. Use it to make changes, but do it as a team. If you have field people, get them in the office for a meeting and have them brainstorm was to make the customer’s experience better.
Trust is an amazing thing when you have it in your business. Trust your employees to do the right thing. Trust your customers to give you meaningful feedback. Finally, trust your team to help you build a stronger business. Compliments can be an amazing part of your brand image. It is tough to tear down a brand that has dedicated followers. Just remember to start the path to compliments inside your business.