Updated: Feb 28
Back in 2003, I was flying to a meeting at my company’s corporate headquarters. In the seat next to me on the plane was the leader of the Strategic Accounts organization. We had worked together for less than a year, but I already had learned a great deal from her and she was the type of leader I wanted to grow up to be.
During the flight we sparked up a conversation about people… who was performing well, why, and what individuals in various corporate departments were really strong. Then we had the infamous discussion that began with the question, “If you were going to start your own company, who would you want on your team?”
We talked about the mix of expertise that would be needed, and what each of our own visions were, and how we would leverage the strengths of each person to form our ideal “Dream Team”. In analyzing our selections, each person identified for our short-list had these 3 attributes -
1. Customer-first mindset (Attitude)
Earlier this year, The Labor Department issued new regulations in Retirement Investing, a so-called conflict-of-interest rule for tax-advantaged retirement accounts, whereby professionals are required to act as “fiduciaries” – the legal term for putting customers’ interests first. Prior to that, marketing materials may have said they put customers first, but now it’s law.
At Butler Street, we say, If we solve our customers’ problems, we’ll solve our own® No matter what level of skill or expertise an individual has, every business has customers, and everyone needs to rally around solving their customers’ problems. You want to hire people that want to help you solve your customers’ problems, without it needing to be law…
Skills and experience were a portion of the picture, but was more heavily weighted was a person’s attitude. Because Client Retention is a direct correlation to your company’s ability to deliver on what you promised during the sales process AND your ability to adapt to the changing needs of your clients over time, personnel change, changing priorities and advancing technology, a customer-first mindset also means a positive attitude towards learning.
Individuals that didn’t possess a customer-first mindset as displayed by their attitude and behavior were not considered for our Dream Team.
2. Strong work ethic (Perseverance)
Everything you learned about team formation, including varied levels of skills and abilities, diversity in the demographic make-up of a team, typically describe the ideal team. Those are important, but what we focused on was, “who continuously goes the extra mile?” Those are the people that will work relentlessly to help acquire and continuously satisfy a customer. (See #1)
Frank Costantino, former Managing Partner at Butler Street, wrote in the article There is Never a Crowd on the Extra Mile, “In today’s competitive marketplace, your customers are aggressively pursued by your competitors and their loyalty cannot be taken for granted. Customer-focused companies and individuals recognize that relationship building and follow-on customer service are critical components for promoting both customer retention and long-term revenue growth.”
3. Fun Personality
When you and everyone on your team possesses both the customer-first mindset and work extra hard, you’re going to spend a lot of time together. Humor and fun in the workplace has been found to reduce attrition and increase employee retention.
Amy Lyman, co-founder of the Great Place to Work® Institute, best known for its selection of the 100 Best Companies to work for, said that fun and success go hand in hand. “You would see a correlation between fun and reduced turnover, better recruiting, greater camaraderie… all those positive things you see happen in great workplaces.”
Research published in the book 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work provides a direct link between fun and work productivity, delivering good customer service, exercising creativity and providing innovation.
We liked to have fun – and we worked hard. (See #2) Were we visionaries then? I believe one of us was. That was the person sitting next to me on the plane. It was Butler Street’s very own Mary Ann McLaughlin! We stayed connected over the course of our careers. We worked together on various projects through different companies and thirteen years later, I’m honored to get to work with her and be a part of our Dream Team.
Think about the people you work with today, those you’ve worked with previously, and who you would want on your next team. Invest in your people to help them be successful today and they will in turn invest in you. Contact Butler Street to help develop and engage your employees. You too can make your Dream Team a reality.