Teach Gen Yers: When You Are at Work, Everyone But You Is Your Customer
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Embrace and use Gen Yers’ and Gen Zers’ customer mind-set to give THEM the basic context of the employment relationship. Explain: Employment is a transactional relationship, just like a customer relationship. This is the ultimate source of your employer’s authority, plain and simple. This is the source of your obligations at work to everyone: your coworkers, your boss, your subordinates, and actual customers.
One senior loan officer in a financial institution takes this approach: ”I tell them, ‘You’re not paying us. We’re paying you. You are not the customer here. The company is. I am. You are on the other side of the transaction. When you are here at work, everyone else is the customer. Not you. Get it? Think about how you want to be treated, and treat everyone else that way. When you are at work, everyone is your customer.’”
“This is supposed to be the most entrepreneurial generation in history, right?” said one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. “They all think they want to be in business for themselves. The funny thing is, they are already in business for themselves, whether they know it or not. They may be working for me, but how they present themselves, what kind of work they do - all that is going to have a bigger impact on their life and career than on me or my company. Who do they think they are representing when they come to work? Me? My company? Perhaps - if I let them anywhere near my customers. But mostly, they are representing themselves. What they need to understand is you’ve got to sell yourself, sell your services. What makes you valuable? What value are you adding right now? Why should someone pay you?”
Trumpet this message to your Gen Yers and Gen Zers: Every person you deal with is your customer - coworkers, employees, managers, suppliers, service people, and actual customers. What makes you valuable to each customer? Every unmet need is an opportunity to add value. Deliver and go the extra mile; get it done early; add the bells and whistles, and tie a bow on it.