Compassion as Strategy
I run my business based on practices that aren’t common for most business owners and CEOs. I have mentioned many different philosophies that I practice throughout my blogs, such as open book management. Another philosophy I hold dear to my heart, which many CEOs don’t feel necessary, is running my company by compassion.
For example, I came into work yesterday and had several messages already on my voicemail. The first one is one of my trainers, who is rather new, who had a bunch of questions about the way we work and how she should prepare for her upcoming presentations. The second message was from an acquaintance of a friend who knows I run a business, who was recently let go, and asking if I could chat with her about career opportunities. Now on top of this, I have an entire business to run. I have my full time employees asking valid questions about accounts, multiple meetings booked for the day, and so on, and most CEOs just wouldn’t bother returning these calls. They would probably have another employee answer the trainer’s questions and get back to the friend looking for a job at a later time. That is not how I run my business.
So, I fixed my coffee, sat down, and called these two back before I even opened up my email to begin the day. Yes, this set me back, since they both could have been hour conversations. But I do have compassion, I know that they had serious questions and concerns, and I was not about to ignore someone else when it was possible to make the time. I spent enough time with each of them so that they felt comfortable by the time we go off the phone, however I did have to let them know I had other things to attend to after about thirty minutes - and they appreciated my time more than I had even thought.
My point here is, no matter how high up you get or how big the work is that you’re doing, everyone else STILL matters – and I run my business on this practice. I have found that they only work and are successful if you follow them 100%, I cannot pick and choose when I wish to be compassionate, I ALWAYS want to be compassionate.
There are reasons behind my methods. Many years ago, I read an inspiring article written by a successful business owner, who wrote about how they run their company with heart. The second I heard this term, I knew that that was me. I needed to absorb this philosophy because that is the way I wanted to feel and be portrayed. I believe that if you take the time to deal with clients in a one on one manner, and take time out of your day to speak with them when they need you to, it gains trust. If a client is upset, I don’t just want one of my employees to email them hoping to dodge the conflict. I want to call them, let them know I care, and find out what is on their mind. Now I do this, because this is who I am, but from a business standpoint it is also a great general practice. If my clients trust me and like me, then they will want to keep doing business with me, and the company is more profitable with stable and happy clients.
I believe this philosophy has to extend to all those in my circles, not just clients. Being a compassionate CEO also means happy employees. Being compassionate does not mean I am a push-over, and my employees would never say I am. But I take each situation and incident as it comes, and hear my employees out. For example, it is a bad time to take a vacation because we just took on a new client and the office is swarmed, but an employee has something she absolutely needs to do or has a family member she needs to see, then I can’t just say no. In gaining trust with my employees, I am also able to trust them. Happy employees are productive employees, and a business cannot run well if the employees aren’t doing their jobs.
Among those reasons, which after many years I have seen firsthand will enable a company to be successful and profitable, I am compassionate because it makes me feel good at the end of the day. I am able to enjoy my business, while enjoying myself. I build relationships, I give advice, I get advice, and when I give off this positive vibe, it does come back to me in a business sense. Now, I know we do not all run businesses, but being a positive person and making time for others – even when you’re busy and consumed – is a good practice to follow in general.
Work life balance has a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves, and finding happiness in the day to day grind of life. Well, a good first step to finding this balance and finding happiness, and just being a nice person. And this philosophy, I believe, should radiate to anyone, in any position, and any industry.