Source: This article was originally published on CNBC.
Written by: Courtney Connley, CNBC Make It
As you advance professionally, it’s inevitable that you’re going to make career mistakes. Hopefully, what you learn from them will shape your future for the better.
I learned a crucial lesson as the result of a career mistake I made early in my professional life. I was almost fired from my well-paying consulting job just one year out of business school.
My career mistake
I was on my way back from visiting a client in Ohio with my team when I committed an offense that could have potentially put me out of a job. We were all good friends inside work and out, my teammates and I. So, one day while waiting for our delayed flight home, I decided to entertain everyone with one of my old party tricks — doing impressions.
I mimicked the client’s CEO and a few other executives. The routine seemed like a big hit with my coworkers, and at the time, I thought everyone was amused. But when I was called into the VP’s office the next morning, I knew that I had bombed.
He was furious, and let me know that my ‘comedy act’ was a fireable offense. He didn’t let me go, but he put me on notice. As I was leaving the office, he told me, “Remember Suzy, you don’t work for your colleagues. You work for the customer.”
What I learned
Those words stuck with me and permanently changed my approach to client relationships. You go to work each day because of, and thanks to, the people ultimately writing your paycheck — satisfied customers. He was right. I knew it in my bones.
After the embarrassment of my career mistake wore off, I quickly became a complete customer zealot. Fast forward to when I became a manager, I never missed an opportunity to tell my employees:
Love the customer like your job depends on it.
I’m here to tell you, it does.
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator, and public speaker. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win.