Kindness is good for business. It sounds like a simple point because it is. Kindness makes people better, which, in turn, makes business better. And when people are your bottom line, kindness is an investment you have to make.
Despite its simplicity, actually promoting kindness in your company isn’t always top of mind. Here are three steps to make it happen.
1. Treat Employees Like Family
As a leader, taking care of your employees should always be your number one priority — making them feel supported and valued. At Starkey, we have more than 5,000 employees around the globe, and each one of them is a member of the #StarkeyFamily.
We have open lines of communication. Take for example our State of Starkey quarterly meetings where I update our team on where the business is headed and answer any questions they may have. I also believe in the importance of making myself, and our entire leadership team, available to our employees. Starkey is driven by people, not hierarchy, and our whole team thrives if they know exactly where we are going and the why behind it.
If you treat your employees like family, they’ll treat your customers like family, too. For any business, the focus on the customer is vital to your success, and that starts with your employees.
2. Empower Your Team to Show Kindness
Our core purpose is helping the world hear. While competition may be good for business overall, it isn’t something you should encourage inside your teams. Competition within teams will result in short-term gains in productivity, or even innovation, but it’s not sustainable. Promoting an environment of encouragement will result in the same kind of innovation, with more revolutionary ideas, and that momentum will only continue to grow as your teams pull together and work with each other towards a common solution.
Give your employees opportunities to show kindness. The Starkey team organizes a whole calendar of events that help employees give back to our community — blood drives, clothing drives and charity walks; we also invite a group of veterans to watch a Vikings football game from a suite each year. These opportunities empower your team to show kindness to others. Oftentimes, that giving back can spark even more kindness in their everyday lives.
3. Show Customers You Care
I talk a lot with our team about leading from the front. That means setting the tone and doing exactly what you are asking the team to do. This is not something we just do internally at Starkey, but outside the company, too. When it comes to kindness, leading by example can have a ripple effect. Connecting people to people is why we are in the hearing health care industry, and we take every opportunity to do that. Last year, a Michigan mother reached out to me on Twitter, saying she couldn’t afford hearing aids for her young son. By partnering with one of our customers, we were able to fit him with our Livio AI hearing aids — filled with the kind of technology even a 10-year-old thought was cool. It was a small thing for us to do that had a life-changing impact on this young man and his family. By showing that you care, even outside the parameters of business, customers know that you will show that same kindness within it.
We need more kindness in our world. As business leaders, the responsibility to insert kindness into our companies starts with us. We must lead from the front because kindness has the power to change companies, to give them, and their employees, a larger purpose. I’ve seen the impact this can have firsthand at Starkey. By leading with our hearts, we are making the world a better place, and there is no business greater than that.