Required Reading: Your Employees Matter, Too

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Business managers and supervisors continually drive home the same message to their workers: Serve the customer. While there's nothing wrong with operating a customer-centric business, oftentimes employees get lost in the shuffle. In Hug Your People: The Proven Way to Hire, Inspire and Recognize Your Employees and Achieve Remarkable Results, a sequel to his first book, Hug Your Customers, Jack Mitchell, chairman and CEO of the Mitchells/Richards/Marshs upscale men's and women's specialty stores in Connecticut and New York, explains why you have to treat your employees right before you can truly deliver exceptional customer service. CRM magazine's Christopher Musico had the opportunity to speak with Mitchell. CRM magazine: Why did you decide to write a book about how employers should treat their employees? Mitchell: I've done 192 speeches since the book Hug Your Customers was published, and the first question I always get is, "How do you hire, motivate, and inspire your people to be customer-centric? How is that possible?" And so while I went into it in Hug Your Customers--I call it the "big secret"--I felt it was a natural sequel. You have to start with the right people who have this attitude, the passion to personalize the relationships. CRM magazine: What risks do businesses run if they throw all of their energy into serving their customers and forget their employees? Mitchell: It's a huge risk because the heart of a customer-centric business is the people delivering the services behind the product. I believe you really need the hugging culture, this culture that has nice, trusting people and the five principles--nice, trust, pride, include, recognize--from Hug Your People. If you just say, "Go out there and hug," you may have people who aren't educated, may not be the right people, or [may not] know how to deliver extraordinary customer service. You must have people with the right attitude, right mentality, and right mindset--that's what I call hugging. CRM magazine: What's the one lesson you want readers to gain from reading this book? Mitchell: You need to dig in and know your people in terms of the personal side of each and every associate who works with you. You also need to know what really motivates them in terms of their personal goals, and hopefully that parallels the workplace goals, company goals, and store goals, in our case. CRM magazine: What will readers find most interesting about the book? Mitchell: I hope they take away that here's a business that started 50 years ago that's actually been working on these five principles from the beginning, basic family values my mom and dad gave to my brother and myself. This book has real-life examples of stories of a real business that is not only surviving but thriving in America. Our message can translate to investment banking, insurance, all the various industries I've done speeches with--these concepts can be picked up and used tomorrow. Other Page-Turners: n Need a fresh way to help coach your employees? The second edition of Co-Active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life is here. In this fully revised edition, authors Laura Whitworth, Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House, and Phillip Sandahl build upon their original work by including updated terminology and new coaching examples to reflect today's realities. The new edition also includes a revamped Coach's Toolkit, with a CD containing real-life coaching dialogues and forms ensuring you can use these strategies right away. n No matter where you work, there will always be one person you will butt heads with. Learn how to deal with these awkward interactions before they turn into unproductive, destructive situations. In Disagreements, Disputes, and All-Out War: 3 Simple Steps for Dealing With Any Kind of Conflict, author Gini Graham Scott provides simple exercises and tools to help you assess any conflict situation--and to handle each of them without becoming the person who gets trampled every time. n Kevin Eikenberry's new book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time, suggests that everyone already has leadership potential. We all have a talent set when we are born, and it is up to us to use these skills to the best of our abilities. Eikenberry's book is a practical guide written for everyone who wants to take these skills and become an outstanding leader, using 12 core competencies that he says "define the remarkable leader."
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