They know more about the needs of the customer than you think
One of the greatest issues in any organization is that some leaders do not engage the front-line employees. Front line employees are those employees that interact with the customers directly. Because of their interaction with the customers, they know the needs of customers but yet many leaders think very little of the front-line employees.
Front-line employees are employees such as the cashiers, the administrators, the health care workers, the switchboard operators and the truck drivers.
Engage with the front-line workers
Many leaders consume a lot of their time having meetings with the Heads of Departments but quite frankly the Heads of Department need to spend more time engaging with the front-line workers. It is unfortunate that many of us as leaders have allowed our positions and educational attainment to go to our heads. Somehow, we think we know everything and think our front-line workers do not know anything. Based on my observation, some of these front-line workers will make better leaders than some of our current leaders.
Our front-line workers understand and know the issues that customers are facing and if anyone that is able to address the needs of customers, more than likely those customers will remain with that organization. However, if leaders are out of touch with the needs of the customers, they will lose those customers and then they will be wondering why they are losing customers. In fact, they may also lose some of their front-line workers because if the workers feel they are not appreciated or listened to, they will become frustrated and move to another organization.
Engage more with the frontline workers and stop disrespecting them and talking to them in a condescending manner. The truth is each employee matters and we should treat them like they matter. Every role in an organization is important and so we need to stop acting like management is better than frontline employees. Meet with the frontline workers frequently and do not only meet with them but address the issues they raised. In fact, we should empower the frontline workers to make certain decisions. Of course, controls must be in place to ensure there is no abuse.
Speaking about abuse, many of us are taking too much advantage of the front-line workers especially if they are work permit holders. Stop looking at employees as foreigners, locals, Dominicans, Haitians and Filipinos but look at them as valuable human resources for your organization. Stop showing preference to front line workers because of who they are. Be very careful how you treat your employees because your employees can also become revengeful and encourage customers to go elsewhere. In addition, your frontline employees may discourage other great potential employees from joining your organization if they are not treated right. I know if I were to join an organization, I would find out from frontline employees what the work environment is like.
I encourage all leaders to have a one-to-one conversation with their employees. Make the employees feel that you care about their opinions and one way to do so is to implement the recommendations they suggested. The thing is, as a leader, when you address the issues, it will make you look good as well. I believe it will also increase productivity and morality of the employees.