Business is Personal

Getting What You Want?

We often make it harder than it should be

By Mark Riffey

You may have heard a Gandhi quote about change. The odds are good that you know the quote most frequently attributed to him: “Be the change you want to see in the world“…

Did you know there’s no proof he said that? This, despite the slew of motivational posters, books, and keynote addresses referencing it.

What he did say was this: “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.

To me, it’s a much different statement. Rather than a woo-woo “Let’s make the world” better thing, it’s about how we show up in our own world.

How we can apply this idea to how we deal with our teams, customers, suppliers, and even ourselves? Let’s give it a shot.

The nature of your team

I talk to a lot of business owners about their people. The things owners want are pretty common. We want our teams to act like owners, trust us, believe what we say, stay longer, and communicate better.

As we reduce unstated expectations, our team delivers what we expect.
To get your team to communicate better, improve your communication with them.

As we teach the economics of our business model to the team, our team’s performance improves.

Our team behaves more like owners as we increase the ways we treat them like owners.

When we treat our team like a family, our team performs like a family.

To get your direct reports to believe you, show your direct reports that you believe them.

As leadership shows more trust in the team, the team’s trust in leadership will increase.

As we become the kind of employer people want to work for, we find better employees who stay longer.

… and your customers

I talk to a lot of business owners about their customers. Again, common themes dominate. Owners want more customers who pay their bills on time. We want smarter customers who don’t become customer service burdens. We’d like less negotiation over pricing.

As we improve our value proposition, customer negotiations are less aggressive.

When we’re crystal clear how we help others achieve their goals, pricing is less important.

As our onboarding process improves, smarter customers choose us.

To shrink our customer service burden, we must make our products easier to use.

As we improve our self-service resources, customer service loads shrink.

When we make it easier to pay, our accounts receivable improves.

As we reduce the friction of dealing with us, the burden of servicing customers gets smaller.

When we treat our customers like peers, our customers act more like peers.

If we communicate with our customers in a specific way, they will communicate with us that way.

… and your suppliers

Supplier comments from the owners I talk to are rather consistent. Companies want better terms, more accurate delivery information, and better service. The irony (?) is that these are the same things our customers want from us.

As our payments become more timely, our supplier’s service and delivery improves.

Our suppliers’ terms improve as our payment timeliness improves.

As our vendor communication improves, vendors get better at communicating with us.

Leaving no expectations unstated with our vendors results in improved delivery and service.

When we receive exactly what we want and need, it reduces our desire to haggle over pricing and terms.

And finally, you.

Given those examples, consider the “…so does the attitude of the world change towards him” part of the quote.

It’s not the attitude of the world.

It’s our attitude.

We express our attitude in many ways:

  • How we convey our view of the world to our team.
  • How we show up for our team.
  • How we show up for ourselves.
  • What we assign importance to through our actions.
  • The examples we set.
  • What we do when employees start acting like owners.
  • How we treat our customers.
  • How we talk about our customers.
  • What we say about our people behind their backs to other employees.
  • How we respond to employees who have wronged other members of the team.

Everyone sees these aspects of our attitude. Our leaders, team members, suppliers, partners, vendors, and others. They all do.

These things tell people who we are, regardless of what we say.

As a whole, these things and others tell people exactly how to show up when they’re around us. That’s what we get from them.

Are you getting what you want? If not, consider whether you’re giving what you want.

Mark Riffey is an investor and advisor to small business owners. Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site, contact him on LinkedIn or Twitter, or email him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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