Is Your Employees Attitude a Competitive Advantage?

I recently shared my experience on American Airlines and how the attitude of their employees, made a large difference in the quality of that trip and my attitude. (I know I am working on maintaining control over my attitude).

I have also observed how a surly attitude can forever change the perception of a Brand. My Dad is one of those guys that give a restaurant one chance (maybe two if Mom really likes it). If the service or food is bad, he will never come back. Here is the shocker his standards are not that high. McDonalds for Sunday Brunch works for him.

Mom and Dad went to a restaurant the other night in the Twin Cities. They had to flag the waiter down for the check. He replied, “Oh yeah you are the ones with the tiny check”. Think they get another chance?

Let’s quantify the cost of that attitude.  My folks eat out at least four meals per week, some at the same restaurant. They do like their routines.  So let’s be conservative and say this restaurant lost twenty-five visits.  Average price for the two of them, (no alcohol and sometimes split portions) $20.00. That is $500 per year. Again being conservative let us, assume the waiter had eight tables that turned four times that night. Again $20 per table that adds up to (8 * 4 * $20) $640. Multiply that by twenty-five visits per year and we get a $16,000 potential impact that this employee’s attitude can have.

Marcus Buckingham and the Gallup Group brought us the term employee engagement several years ago. Their studies show that engaged employees improve sales, earnings and market-share. An article in Business Week from the August 24 and 31, 2009 issue called “Optimism a Competitive Advantage”, reported that the retailer Best Buy has found that a two percent increase in employee engagement translates into $100,000 increase in sales at one of their locations. Multiply that by the number of locations and we are now talking millions of dollars!

So how do we as leaders influence our employee’s attitude for the better?

1.    Manage our attitudes studies have shown they are contagious.
2.    Show that you care about your employees, (know their names, their families, what they are excited about etc.)
3.    Demonstrate gratitude
a.    Donuts and bagels
b.    Starbucks gift cards ( I regularly send these to people in other branches as a thank you)
c.    Thank you notes
4.    Create an environment where friendship between employees is encouraged and fostered

These four little inexpensive steps can make a very large difference. If you have engaged me as an employee, I am no longer working for a faceless company but I am working and making a difference for friends and colleagues.

What things do you do to engage your team?

One Comment:

  1. Hi John,

    Great post. And right on target. Here’s the funny thing about employee engagement. Some people will never be engaged. They don’t want to be engaged, they don’t plan to be engaged, and they will resist any attempt to engage them. These are the same people who say, “If you want me to like my job, pay me more.” Of course, if you pay them more it will have zero impact on their productivity.

    Other employees are looking to be engaged and want to take pride in their work. According to the same Buckingham studies you are quoting above these people are not looking for money, they are looking for a connection between who they are and who the company is. When they find that connection, their productivity increases automatically. Motivating these people is as simple as making the connection between the company and their own values. For them, it’s not about a salary increase, it’s about being appreciated; it’s not about a big bonus, it’s about knowing that their boss cares; and it’s not about THEM, it’s about the team, the customer, and the product.

    Who would you rather have working for you? The person who is focused on their paycheck? Or the person who just wants to be appreciated?

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