Well now, aren't you the selfish one! Exercising like you do, taking your meds as you should, eating healthy. It's all about YOU, isn't it? Mom taught you to share. Your teachers admonished you for being self-centered if you kept a toy to yourself. Even the library fines you if the book you borrowed isn't brought back on time. So, what's up?
As a trainer of customer service and sales, the programs I facilitate emphasize customer and company expectations. They're the start to many training sessions. Yet, regardless of how important these ideas are, the WIIFM (What's In It For Me - the employee), takes front row in gaining buy in from the audience. The information honed from a training day doesn't stay at the workplace only to be used from nine to five, but follows the customer service rep throughout her/his career. It all has to do with self-improvement. In another word, selfishness.
Recently, I was reminded of this idea by Mike M., a manager who's enthusiasm for his staff, his company, and his job is obvious. I was about to begin my training session when Mike took over; he does this most of the time. Speaking to his employees, he reminded them how he's always expected them to "do it for our customers"; they're the ones spending money and expect value for their dollars spent; "do it for the company"; that's why we're in business. This day however, he spoke another thought from the heart, "Do it for yourself; be selfish."
Mike told his CSRs that by doing it for themselves the ultimate results provide better service to the customer, creating a loyal customer which leads to higher revenues for the company. As an example; a customer asks for a part, has a complaint, a request. A simple but sincere question such as "What more can I get for you today?" or "What else can I get for you with while I have you on the phone?" not only saves the CSR the work and effort of answering another call or a repeat delivery to the same customer, it saves your company money. It's also a reminder to the customer to double check their shopping list rather than having to return to your location or call back to the desk to request yet another item. The customer will be pleased you asked and loyalty is fostered. This is good selfishness, the far-sighted effects of selfishness.
There's also the negative connotation of being selfish. Bad selfishness limits results to the short-term, to the now. The results can have a negative effect on your customers. A child may be asked to cleanup his room with the promise that playtime will follow. He shoves the toys under the bed, into drawers, hides them in the closet. Proud that the job was quickly completed, the promise of play soon follows. Yet when mom opens that drawer or looks under the bed, she'd disappointed and hurt. The short-term results are in the moment gratification for that child but doubles the work and effort for him as well; his efforts need to be repeated. Guilt may also follow. So too, some adults fool their way into seeking the short-term results of customer service by satisfying the customer now, rather than exceeding their expectations.
Selflessness may be as detrimental to the individual as bad selfishness. Never looking out for oneself, only trying to please another, simply for approval, leads to frustration and emptiness. Think of the situation where a customer wants only to use up an employee's time gabbing, gossiping, joking around. The employee selflessly shares her time with the customer disregarding the work that's backing up. Not only does this create a backlog for that employee but may also result in a disenchanted team. Finding the balance between service and work may be a challenge, but once it's achieved, everyone wins.
So keep on exercising, taking your meds, eating healthy and doing things to better yourself. Your family, friends, co-workers and customers will find you a more positive person, one they'll be pleased to be around. Be selfish, for all the right reasons.
And by the way, don't forget to pay that library fine!