It Runs Downhill

Wed, 2012-06-27 09:12 -- tomjonez

We all have heard the populist axiom, usually in the negative, “It runs downhill.”  Sure enough. Here are two examples:
Company “A”
The CEO for Company A had a penchant for treating the key member of her own team in a verbally diminishing manner on a regular basis.  To the public and customers the CEO was all peaches and cream; to her staff person, she was alternately belittling and then, if the morale sunk too low, she would swoop in with complements and flattery to shore up her staff member in an attempt to rehabilitate the internal mood of the person (and her team).  The CEO was an emotional Jekyll-and-Hyde toward her staff person and treated him like…OK…like crap.  And there were consequences….
I would regularly hear from the customers they served that this Company’s staff person was alternately credited with being brilliant toward the firm’s customers, followed by feedback that this same staff member had been harsh or dismissive toward their customers.   Well, well, well…what a surprise.   Not.
Company “B”
The CEO at Company B had an alternate approach to leadership.   He ran a business in the same industry.  But the difference was that he personally valued his staff team - and treated them accordingly.  His staff members all knew that they were valued; and each of them loved being a part of his team.  Don’t get me wrong…he was a strong leader and there were definite performance requirements; he was demanding because he believed in the highest capabilities of his team members.  At the same time he was kind, consistent, straight-forward, and fair.  And there were consequences…
I would regularly hear from the customers they served that his staff members were credited with being brilliant toward the firm’s customers.  And consistent.  And kind.  And fair.  Well, well, well…what a surprise.   Not.
I’m tempted to simply write the word “duh’” and end right here.  But I don’t want to be too cute about it.  And yet the conclusion is obvious:  “Stuff” does run downhill.
Whatever is inserted at the top – by the top – is what the customers have the potential of experiencing.  If it’s bad, customers will feel the consequences.  If it’s positive, the “downhill” rule still applies.  Either way, the customers will get a taste of it.
Maybe great customer service isn’t all that complicated after all.  Maybe it all starts with leadership at the top.  What do you observe (or experience)?  Feel free to provide your comments, experinces, or insights below...