Who Is Going to Win — Employer, Employee or Client?

I was sitting on the other side of the table. I really wanted them as a client. Really bad. I didn’t consciously think, “What’s in it for me?” but I was clearly focused on “me.”

I was sitting on the other side of the table. It was one of the mandatory meetings. I kept thinking, “If only this problem were fixed, if only that was better, if it was more like this…” I didn’t consciously think, “What’s in it for me?”

I was focused on how solving those issues would help “me.”

The company really wants to make their quarterly projections. This is what they ask: “Did the sale come in?” “Did you win the account?” “Did they buy?” “Did you finish the project?” “Did the email get sent?”

The company is focused on its own “me.”

This thinking will kill me. This type of thinking will kill you. This thinking will make your business toxic.

No, it probably won’t send you to the grave, but it will most likely kill your happiness, your sense of fulfillment, your success.

Most of us have our thinking backwards. Our order of importance is out of whack.

Companies think: ME — -> CLIENTS — -> EMPLOYEES

Employees think: ME — -> CLIENTS — -> EMPLOYER

You can see the pattern. Our poor clients are always squeezed in the middle of ame-first sandwich.This is not best for the client.

This is not best for the employer, and this is not best for you as an employee.

How can we fix this?

From giving workshops, pitching ideas, going over proposals, setting up meetings, networking, hiring, and writing, I have found the best results come when I change the order.

If you study any company that has an electrifying culture — employees are engaged with their work and the mission, leaders are getting their results and customers are fans — the order is different.

It is not profound. It is simple. But like all “simple” ideas — “eating less and exercise will help you lose weight,” “never go to bed angry,” or “flossing does reduce the likelihood of cavities” — they are simple, but hard to actually put into practice.

Here is the order that will make you happy, fulfilled and successful. Here is the order that will change your company culture from a “watch-your-back, micromanaging hell-hole” to a “problem-solving, engaged, fun, kickin’-tail and takin’-names” team:

Clients → Employee/Employer → ME

If both parties are putting the clients first, you are going to become the best in your industry (or your clients just won’t care about your product and it will tell you to shift).

Your clients will love working with you. They will know you have their best interests at heart. Don’t you think they will stick around and tell others?

If a company puts their employees above themselves they will make sure this is the best next-step for the potential hire. They will allow mistakes, as their goal is to make the employee a better version of themselves from when they started.

Employers will cheer for employees even if that means they are moving to a different gig. This builds loyalty, trust and the right kind of fire — employees fired up for the work they are doing for the clients and company they are doing it for.

And the same is true for the employee. If an employee is focused on the success of the company, she will look for ways to increase profit, new verticals to run after, and faster ways of getting products out the door. She even may make a viral video, even if it’s outside of her job description.

So you take the employee’s new order (Clients → Employer → ME) and intertwine it with the business’ new order (Clients — -> Employees — -> ME) and you have a rope that will stand the strains of the market and the snags along the way.

If I want to be “successful” I need to change the order: client, employer, then me.

If you want your company to be one of those “best places to work,” you have to change your order. Clients, employees and then you.

Of course this means you will need to ask “Is this client worth it?” “Is this employer worth it?” “Is this employee worth it?” But you will have the order correct when you say yes.

Will you get burned? Sure you will. But it will be worth it. Because you will be sitting on the other side of the table with a smile.

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Now look, I need your help. What are the practical ways you’re actually living this out as an employee? As an employer? Any thoughts?