“Former IBM Chairman/Europe Hans-Ulrich Maerki observed that one of the most important organizational and cultural shifts that occurred in the aftermath of IBM’s $3.5 billion acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting over a decade ago was a subtle but profound shift in language. That acquisition signaled IBM’s global commitment to become more of a professional services firm. But the company’s internal and external vocabulary alike emphasized the computer giant’s ‘product’ origins.
“After the acquisition, says Maerki, IBM began emphasizing ‘clients’ over ‘customers. The PwC consultants relentlessly stressed that “customers” were about managing transactions but “clients” were about investing in relationships. IBM needed to redesign itself around serving clients, not selling customers…Changing important words helped change important behaviors.”
When it comes to your employees, SouthWest Airlines made a similar tiny word change that had huge impact in how their employees viewed themselves. All SouthWest did was capitalize the first letter of “employee” in all their documents, articles, everywhere. So it now reads “Employee.” Suddenly, Employees were important! Anything capitalized is.
Think about it: what small word change could you make that would demonstrate to your employees how much you value and appreciate them? And make them very happy.