Luxury hotel pioneer J.W. Marriott famously said, “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself.”

Mr. Marriott’s wisdom applies to any industry in any time. In that ever-present business triad of peopleprocess, and technologies, it is the people who most immediately manifest an organization’s potential for success. From my own personal and specific perspective, I can easily name the primary driver in my own organization’s identification of $83M+ in federal cost recoveryover the last four years. (Hint: It’s not technology.)

Federal IT leaders – and those of us in the industry that support them – are business brokers and, ultimately, purveyors of customer service. And, in this business, the definition of “customer” extends beyond the programs that federal IT supports to the citizens that those programs serve.

In a twist on Marriott’s observation, the logic then follows: if we are not taking care of our people, they will not take care of our customers, who in turn will not properly take care of our citizens. Thus, the mission of government will fail.

A 2014 Forrester study on customer experience and the U.S. Digital Services Playbook goes so far as to implicate poor customer service as a national security concern. With the magnitude of this mission at hand, be sure to consider your people and the culture you create for them as the foundation for your collective organizational success in 2015. After all, culture drives operations and, for better or worse, begins at the top of the organizational chain of command.

The President of our organization says, “Look your people in the eye and tell them ‘thank you’ for all that they do.” This simple, iterative behavior can have a big impact over the long-term. People are happier when they feel appreciated and welcomed within a group. Happiness translates to success and not the other way around, according to extensive Harvard research captured in Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage. Optimism and altruism, too, lend themselves more directly to success than one might assume. So, make this very human and personal move: genuinely thank your staff for all that they do every single day.

Will they be immediately refreshed and re-energized by your sincere appreciation? Perhaps not. But the seed will have been planted, and that is the first critical, if not way-too-easy, step towards strengthening your organization’s people-centric culture and the services it provides.

Join our team. You won’t just work. You’ll thrive.

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