At one point in my career, colleague and I visited one of our small suppliers. His opinion of the company was not very high. He did not think well of the company, and therefore, felt as if he didn't have to treat the employees well. It was almost as if he thought they were beneath us, just because we were with the giant company, and they were a smaller business, with less resources. He thought they would go out of business soon, and generally was not very friendly to them. That's not to say he was unfriendly, he was just very matter-of-fact - not very personable.
I feel that, regardless of the company's status or reputation, we work with PEOPLE, not a faceless company. People have feelings, and can pick up on your attitude, body language, and the way you treat them. If, by chance, this company does go under, the people will still exist. They will go on to take other positions, at other companies, where we might meet again later down the road. What if, the next time we meet, they happen to be in positions to help us out? Something to consider, but not the sole reason to treat someone with respect.
I sent individual, personalized emails to every member of the team, thanking them for their support during our visit. It was a small gesture, but hopefully they realize that their assistance was genuinely appreciated. I consider myself to be a people person, and I know that I would enjoy a note like that. I wouldn't expect it, but it would be an added bonus to my day. Something like that sets people apart, and not only looks good on the individual, but reflects well on the company the person represents. It reminds others there is a human element to business operations, and that's what it boils down to: people interacting with other people.
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