Customers. They’re our oxygen in business. Without them we don’t make it. Often, our focus on customers are the ones outside of our business. What if we spent the same amount of energy on our internal customers as our external customers? What would our results look like?

In human resources, my internal customers are my customers. Yes, I have some outside of our organization as well, but the ones I spend the most time with are in my daily work world.

How about you? Are you as thoughtful or responsive to your team members when they have a request as a demanding client. Do you focus on what your team members would say about your performance to your manager? Or are you more concerned about what your clients would say about you?

Our team is finishing up our performance review process, and a key component to this time is our ability to receive feedback from those who see the “whole” of our performance. Our peers, our manager, our selves and even those who report directly to us. In this case, our “internal” customers have a more direct voice in sharing their opinions of how we interact with them.

I love that our team is so accountable to each other. We not only share feedback during our formalized process, but we do it on a daily basis. And we call each other out for updates and new developments in our monthly staff meeting. In another blog posting, I talk about the “keywords” of hiring in our organization, one of which is confidence. We need confident people to receive this feedback and accountability well. And to continue us forward for better serving our external customers.

Many people I interview share how great their customer service is. But again, most of those individuals can share quotes from their managers or clients, but rarely do they give me insight into how they work with the others on their team. I have to probe for this and it’s usually a more difficult answer for candidates to give.

Play Nicely in the Sandbox

This doesn’t just apply to kids, your sandbox at work just looks a little differently.

Play This Out….

Hire the right people. As I mentioned before, those with confidence are most likely to receive feedback well and make needed changes.

Create a culture where people can openly share their feedback about performance with each other. Provide numerous ways for people to provide feedback as I mentioned earlier: reviews, meetings, daily interactions.

Take time to listen. Have your ears and eyes open and take every opportunity for feedback seriously. Stop yourself from qualifying someone’s feedback just because you interact with him/her everyday. That should make it more valuable than just a one-time discussion with a client.

Reward those who do it well. This can be simple, without having to create a huge contest. If you do the first three steps well, this should be fairly easy to do.

Hire the right people. Yes, I was redundant. The interview is show time. If you’re questioning their performance during this process, don’t hire them. And looking for peer feedback should make your research list before the hire. What do “internal” customers say about a candidate on LinkedIn?