Priorities: Who Comes First?

Put Your Customers Employees First

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

I had an interesting conversation over Labor Day weekend with a friend’s spouse. She and I were discussing parenting, church, and careers. There are many challenges facing parents (and kids) today, but one of the societal “norms” that is relatively new (and very destructive in my opinion) is this idea that the children come first. I see it every week on social media. “I put my kids first.” “Always put your children first.” Personally, I think this is one of the key reasons so many are struggling with young adults now. For the last 30 years (or so), they have been taught that they are the center of the universe. There is a proper order to all things, and getting priorities out of order leads to chaos. In terms of the family, the order is simple… God first, spouse second, children third. Putting kids before your spouse (and especially before God) is short-sighted at best, and idolatrous at worst. I will elaborate more on this topic elsewhere, however.

Whether you agree with me or not, there is usually a “right” order to things. In business, the phrase, “The customer is always right,” has been around for a long time (since 1909). And it was a MARKETING ploy, not sage advice from a business expert. It has endured all this time despite its destructiveness. Why is it destructive, you ask? It distorts the proper order and prioritizes the wrong things. A business is like a family in many ways. Although the analogy is imperfect, if the “marriage” is between the employer and employees, and the “children” are the customers, then the order should still be 1) God, 2) spouse, and 3) children. In other words, your employees should be prioritized OVER your customers.

Putting the customer first has led to so many problems in the workforce… everything from labor disputes & toxic culture to high turnover, “the great resignation”, & “quiet quitting”. It’s time for employers to understand that their employees come before the customer. Without employees, you cannot get new customers. Without employees, you cannot serve the customers you have.

As with any relationship, communication is key. Start actively listening to your teams. Ask questions, promote “radical candor”, and do not argue or try to justify decisions/actions. Just listen. People want/NEED to be heard. Provide that to them, and take appropriate action in your business so they see that you heard them. Actions speak. Lip service does not (that will only confirm suspicions that the employees already have about their perceived value and your sincerity).

If you build a culture where the employees feel loved, love their work, & love their company, the customers will come. They will be attracted by the love and excitement. So, stop putting your customers first. The customer is NOT always right. Value your people first. You will be amazed at the results.


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