I realized that I may not have explained to you why I believe people are important to business & business success. It seems so logical to me, but luckily for you, you’re not inside my head and I realise I need to tell you why the people in your business are my focus.
Where I first learnt how people are important to business success
I first became interested in Psychology when I did a high school project on Vincent van Gogh in Art. It was before Psychology was even a high school subject here in South Australia and I was intrigued by how people with Mental Illness were treated (medically & socially).
I did my degree in Psychology at the Flinders University of South Australia and then went on to do a Graduate Diploma of Management in Human Resources from Central Queensland University. My passions in psychology were social and organizational psychology – why we acted certain ways in groups and the psychology of work and the workplace.
I even started a Masters in Public Sector Management. One paper I wrote was about Public Sector Principles & in my readings I found evidence to show that happy staff meant happy clients.
My studies really showed me how people are important to business.
How I applied what I learnt
After my studies, I started as a graduate for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (you can see the full list of what I got up to on my LinkedIn profile). My first job was to redesign & rebuild their website, typical “You’re young and know how this stuff works” and so with the Webmaster we rebuilt the site. The thing about Veterans’ Affairs is its focus on the veteran and veteran community, they are at the centre of their activities. So my work started putting people at the centre of online business.
I went on to work on helping to build a secure communications portal for the veteran community, it was 2002 after all. I was tasked, amongst other things, with writing the Instruction Manual. Can you imagine writing a manual for your grandparents or older parents on how to use the Internet? Yep, that was my job. I had to put the person at the centre of the work so that project would succeed.
All through my 12 years in the Department, I was responsible for various parts on the Intranet. I worked on the consultancy team that business units could call on for advice. I also built and maintained parts of the Intranet for various business units. The Intranet was used by staff for information, it was built to meet their needs and so the staff (people) had to be at the centre of the business when it came to the Intranet.
What about staff?
I trained many staff, I consulted with many staff, and I managed staff. The most important lesson I had was when I managed 10 staff. They were beaten and needed support and motivation. So I turned to them. I showed them how they fit within the aims of the Department and asked them what they were passionate about when it came to their work & how the Department helped Veterans. I showed them how as people, they were the most important thing to our business success – because they were.
My staff went from being unmotivated to incredibly productive, happy, having less time off, being consulted more by the business areas we serviced, and they got rid of 2 years’ backlog of work in 3 months. There was no overtime, bonuses, or extra pay. Instead, I made people the most important part of the business. My staff could see where they fit in the direction & success of the Department, they had meaningful work, we had happy ‘clients’ & we were a success.
This proved what I had read in my Masters program on happy staff being the key to having happy clients.
What about on social media?
When I started my first Facebook-based business in 2011, I was creating school hair accessories to meet a personal need. I had clients asking for specific colours, then I had parents asking for specific styles, then I had parents asking to meet specific developmental needs. Meeting the needs of the people using my services kept my business running.
I took this approach to the content I was putting out. What other problems did they have when it came to school, particularly with hair accessories? Hairstyles, head lice, wear & tear. This is what I gave them. I gave them information around their needs and they loved it. My business Facebook page exploded, reach extended, posts went viral. This was all before Facebook Ads! I learnt that people, even on social media, were important to my business success online. I also learnt that it was the key to having engaging social media.
What I’ve realized as a business coach and consultant
Sadly, technology seems to have become more important than people. We’ve forgotten that people drive social media. It’s a person who clicks on a link, likes a post, shares an image, or comments; not an algorithm. People are the ones who make the decision to buy things and to actually purchase them.
We are more interested in a quick win and an easy trick than building long-lasting and profitable business relationships with our customers. A quick win and quick sale runs the risk of reducing customers from the people they are to widgets. The thing is that people need relationships to build trust and we buy from people that we “know like and trust”.
In the end, people are the most important in our business success, without our staff or our clients we’re all alone.