Who Comes First?

Abhishek Paul
2 min readSep 6, 2018

It seems fashionable to talk about putting employees before customers, employee happiness being a priority, etc. The gap between intention and reality is still significant though and shows no sign of going away. Organizations try to deal with this through their typical carpet bombing initiatives (Fun@work, Forums, Workshops for Managers), but like manna from heaven, it lasts only for a little while.

Then, one of my early managers blew a lot of my assumptions out of the water. He showed me that this needn’t be a complicated process that requires organizational resources or blessings. He let me experience how simple, everyday actions have a far greater impact on the employee’s morale (both directions).

His simple advice was, “Abhishek, always respond to your team members first. If you step out of a meeting and see a call from me and a team member, call her first not me.”

He lived it consistently for years when I worked with him. Knowing that my needs came first gave a tremendous sense of confidence (as much as I believed I didn’t need external validation). I knew where I stood and that I mattered in the team by the everyday behaviour of my manager through this one simple interaction.

Sadly, I still see people pushing their team member’s / colleagues requests to the bottom of the pile while jumping to answer any simple request from their superior (or client). This sends a clear and loud message to the employee about who actually matters. No amount of team outings, fun activities (sheeeshh!!) or flash mobs are going to help.

So don’t tell the employees they come first, show them!