Ari Weinzweig is co-founder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, which is world-renowned for their superior customer service. Due to his great success in applying The Zingerman’s Approach, he now teaches other businesses and organizations the same principles.

When you receive good customer service, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn it’s a reflection of that company’s internal culture. For those in a leadership position, how might you effect such a culture?

1. TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES LIKE CUSTOMERS

Ari talked about a concept he refers to as “servant leadership.” The idea is that the leader’s key role is to serve the organization, and not the other way around.

He said, “Almost everybody nods and agrees with that, but I think it’s actually 180 degrees opposite of what most of the world has been trained that business is for.” He went on to explain the commonly-held belief that companies exist for the owner, which he adamantly suggested was incorrect.

Ari’s company has developed the six elements of servant leadership, one of which is to treat employees like customers. You won’t be able to do this perfectly, just like you don’t always serve your customers (well, in our case, members!) perfectly, but elevating your staff to this level will have a huge impact on their engagement.

2. EMPLOYEES SHOULD BE TRAINED ON THE ENTIRETY OF THE BUSINESS

Ari emphasized the importance of all employees understanding how the business functions, rather than just their individual roles. This should run far beyond one’s own department. The greater one’s comprehension of the bigger picture, the greater the possibility of contributing to it.

This kind of understanding rarely happens on its own though; it requires training. However, responsibility doesn’t lie solely on the trainer. The trainee is the only person who knows how they learn most effectively. Make sure your employees feel comfortable articulating how they will best grasp the concepts.

3. THERE ARE MASSIVE BENEFITS TO BREAKING HIERARCHAL NORMS

As a leader, you can teach your employees as much as they can teach you. Ari explained simply, “they have insights you don’t have.” If you share vulnerability by asking for help, you will be rewarded.

Here’s the best part: Both sides benefit. The leader learns valuable information that will better the company, while the employee feels valued for being asked, which positively reinforces their continued engagement.

4. YOU MAY BE CREATING SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES

Let’s say you believe your employee is not a “people person.” You may in turn treat them this way, such as removing them from any client facing responsibilities. In turn, your employee might start openly resenting the position, which will only further reinforce your original belief in regards to their people skills.

Beliefs are often unconscious. Ari emphasized the need for self-reflection to start identifying these beliefs, so you can begin to turn them around.

5. DON’T BETRAY HUMAN NATURE

Ari talked about the “12 natural laws of business”, explaining that all healthy organizations are living in harmony with nature. “When you violate human nature, you create bad work and people disengage because it’s tortuous.”

Ari explained that if work is not satisfying, then employees will fulfill their passions in other ways outside the office. What’s the result? “The workplace is missing out on all (their) creativity.”

I lead AssociationSuccess.org,and I do so with the fiercest of passion. Along my journey, I have been lucky to meet association professionals who choose this field because they believe in its power, and dedicate their time to furthering it. It is my job to bring these people together to solve problems, and this is the very core of my raison d’etre!

I lead AssociationSuccess.org,and I do so with the fiercest of passion. Along my journey, I have been lucky to meet association professionals who choose this field because they believe in its power, and dedicate their time to furthering it. It is my job to bring these people together to solve problems, and this is the very core of my raison d’etre!

There's More To Discover

Subscribe today for more thought-provoking content.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.