VOL. 125 | NO. 195 | Thursday, October 7, 2010
Light Their Fire
Embracing Outsiders as Insiders
No business is an island.
Besides all the people who are on your payroll, there are many outside contributors who are essential to your success. They may be suppliers who print your marketing materials or tech people who support your computer needs. Without their dedication to your mission, you couldn’t achieve your clients’ goals.
Getting employees engaged comes first, but you also need to spread the spark so that your virtual employees “love” your company as much as your employees do. Think of the exponential rewards when they feel respected and valued like members of your own team. Here’s what happens:
They are as committed to excellence as you are. They go above and beyond to help you reach your goals because they know you appreciate them. Sure, the money is an incentive, but personal relationships are every bit as important. If they’re engaged, they’ll weather difficult jobs and do it with a smile.
Virtual team members sing your praises to others. When you have a reputation as a good partner, you’ll be able to hire the best of the best subcontractors. And believe me, the opposite is also true. If you have a reputation as a difficult client, independent contractors and even small- to mid-size businesses will shy away from working with you. Word spreads fast, and you don’t want to be one of those companies who are known for abusing suppliers.
And, of course, one of the greatest paybacks of shared engagement is that it is fun to work with people with whom you share mutual respect and friendship.
There are myriad benefits from having a cadre of committed partners, so how can you create loyalty and “fire” among them?
Set realistic expectations about what you need and explain at the start what will make you a satisfied customer. Don’t promise a client insane delivery dates or products that are unreasonable and then expect your supplier to deliver.
Live by the theory of abundance: There’s plenty to go around. Don’t nitpick every dime, or keep a huge margin for yourself while your contractor squeezes by on less.
Be kind. Understand the life events that should come before business. Don’t expect people to skip their 5-year-old’s first soccer game or drag themselves out of bed when they have the flu. Be considerate of others’ needs and they’ll bend over backwards to serve you.
When things go wrong, don’t throw your partners under the bus by telling the client, “They screwed up.” Accept the responsibility for the mistake and protect your vendor.
Show your gratitude. Pay on time. Send birthday cards to people who support you. Stop by their office, walk around and say thank you to everyone who works on your projects.
Got a question, idea, concern? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Drake is the president of Spellbinders and the author of “Light Their Fire, Using Internal Marketing to Ignite Employee Performance and WOW Your Customers.”