Earlier I pointed out the four main categories into which the customers of any business fall. Here they are again so that you can see how the same categories apply elsewhere:
Group 1 is the largest. These are the customers who you don't normally see. They are the dutiful, quiet, understanding, co-operative customers who just get on with it and normally go along with whatever you are doing. It's good to keep in touch with them but you won't normally have many direct dealings with them. Because they are the lest visible group, they are also neglected the most - we’ll come back to this in a moment, as it is key to expanding your business.
Group 2 is the next largest. These are customers who fall into the above category but occasionally come to see you with a specific request or on a particular issue. They are normally sensible and whatever it is they need can usually be accommodated without too much trouble.
Group 3 is the next largest, though not a very large group - perhaps 10% of the total customer body. These people you will see often. They are frequently unhappy or troublesome and whenever you think you have dealt with their concerns they will be back with another, or perhaps even the same one. They require time, turn up unexpectedly, must be listened to expertly, and generate quite a bit of ‘noise’ in your business. Because you see them more often, you can be deluded into thinking that they are a much larger group than they are.
Group 4 is the last and smallest group, consisting of maybe one or two customers in your whole database. They will be a serious problem in that their issues tend not to resolve but to get worse. Sometimes they can become threats to your business in some way, ranging from noisily threatening to withdraw their custom to actually calling on solicitors or the like.
The good news is that Group 4 customers are rare. You’ll have a few who could potentially escalate into this kind of customer, but most of your time will be taken up with Group 3 - the noisy, repeating visitors whose real solution is probably not related to your business at all.
Anyone in business will be able to see that the same groupings above could be applied to staff, with this important difference: staff aren't your customers, they are your team.
Your staff are your team: you don't need to service them in the same way as customers, but you do need to make sure that they can do their job and hopefully do it to the best of their abilities. Please note that this is not best achieved through a constant stream of orders, targets or other directions. In my experience, the best way to handle staff is the same as the best way to handle customers: using lots of affinity and good humour, understanding them, engaging with their own purposes and the best in them to procure their willingness to work for you and towards the same or similar goals.
Treating them like pawns or puppets or subservients will get just those things - pawns or puppets or subservients - coupled with underlying resentment; treat them as professionals, with unique capabilities and talents, and grant them lots of credit, and you'll get more valuable qualities: professionalism, loyalty and better people. Regard your staff (and anyone for that matter) as lesser creatures and you'll get less; regard them as people worth serving and you'll add value to them as team members.