A four-step method to build an employee-centric organization that focuses on the customer

Dustin S. Klein, Publisher and Vice President of Operations, Smart Business Network Inc.

Admit it. Your psyche is still a little bit shaken by the traumatic economic implosion of 2008. If this wasn’t true, the economic recovery would have been a bit stronger by now and job growth less sluggish. Instead, we’ve all learned to do more with less, watch our financials like hawks and spend our time focused on ensuring our respective organizations’ futures.

With so much at stake, ensuring the right culture — one that is focused on innovation and delivering service to your customer — is critical to long-term success. This starts with your people. To build a powerful culture where your people work together and put your customers first, it’s important to consider a four-pronged approach.


Great leaders are great teachers. Pick up any leadership or management book and you’ll read that leaders are at their best when they are helping to create new leaders. As a great leader, it’s incumbent upon you to teach every employee on your team how to grow and build upon his or her strengths.


Actions speak louder than words. That may sound trite, but it’s true. When you’re able to provide examples of what your expectations are, you’ll find others more than eager to follow your lead.


Empowered organizations are, quite frankly, more powerful than top-down organizations. Of course, empowering employees at every level of an organization can be a challenge — and sometimes scary. That’s because it means placing nearly unfettered decision-making power in the hands of every member of your team.


Find ways to acknowledge team members that go above and beyond the call of duty to excel at their jobs and make positive contributions to the organization. This should be both internal and external acknowledgement. By doing so, people see your commitment to excellence and dedication to your team. One word of caution, however: If you don’t follow through with the acknowledgement component of culture-building, then ultimately, the people side of your business will only be about what you pay them. A culture of gratitude is an intangible that has tangible positive consequences.

Dustin Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business Network Inc.