Urgent message for CEO’s: put your people first, not your customers

February 9, 2019

Dear CEO,

I would have preferred to talk with you about this in person. But time is running out. And I felt it’s important to get this message to you rather sooner than later. Talent is being wasted. People are getting hurt and the continuity of your organisation is at stake. That’s why I decided to send you this message.

I acknowledge the huge responsibility you have. Facing the judgement of your shareholders quarter by quarter. And simultaneously ensuring the continuity of the organisation on the long run. Not an easy task.

Putting customers first has been the holy grail. Everything for the customer. Focussing on the needs of your customers while keeping costs to the lowest possible level, to ensure a competitive position.

For the sake of high performance McKinseys and the likes show up to guide the organisation through transformation, to fit – or rather outperform the benchmark. And preferrably speed-up the transformation. Quick fixes that show results to please the shareholders in the next quarter.

People, Planet, Profit…. Yes, the planet has been given a fair share in the responsibility of companies, and for sure profitability. But what are you doing to respect and prosper the power of your people? People are no more than numbers. They are regarded as costs rather than assets.

Do you realize what’s happening? People are being sacrificed for the sake of profitability. The one thing that makes things happen for your customers every day, the workforce, is sadly worn out in the process.

It is not your customers that should be your focus. It’s your people. That is what makes your organisation stand out. The employees that choose to work for your organisation. To serve the customers. Without these people you are nothing.

The snake is biting it’s own tail. You may not know it, but one day you will see. This focus on costs, revenue and cashflow. So wake up, cause time is running out. Talent is walking out the door. And will do so with more speed than you can get new hires in. And the CEO’s that put their people first, those will be the ones people will love working for. And I’ll tell you a secret, if the people love their work, they will put the customer first, and then all will work out.

It’s not too late. You are the one in charge, so you need to step up as a leader.

A leader takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and has the courage to develop that potential. (Brené Brown)

People are not numbers, they are your greatest asset. It is your job to provide a working climate where your people can prosper.

If you don’t have the people, then it’s no use having customers. Cause there will be no one to serve them. So please take a moment to reflect. Start listening to your people. They can tell you what they need to put customers first. They can tell you what they need to step up the game. And show the leaders in your organisation what it means to lead. To empower your people, in stead of suffocating them with ever increasing demands to do more, more, more. It’s not about doing more, it’s about doing the right thing.

Empowered people can lift the world. It’s your job to set the stage for that to happen.

Kind regards,

Margot van Brakel

Sometimes I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. This impossible challenge is one of them. 

EmpoweringPeople