An employee is an employee, but the name reference you give an employee does make a difference in how they feel about themselves and the role they play in your organization. Think of the mindset someone has towards their job, when instead of being called an “employee”, they are referred to as a:
Cast member @ Walt Disney World
Sandwich artist @ Subway
Team member @ ABC Fine Wine & Spirits
Ladies and Gentlemen @ Ritz Carleton
Just as powerful, is the name reference that is given to an organization’s customers. For example “guest” implies that you are going to treat the customer as you would a visitor in your home by making sure it is clean, well-stocked, and everyone is very welcoming. “Client” implies your customer is a professional and must be treated as someone you will partner with in the sale. “Ladies and Gentlemen” encourages the staff to give equal red carpet treatment to all customers and ensure everyone is treated with decorum.
The most powerful of all concepts where a name does matter; though, is naming areas where the customer is present “on-stage” and areas only for employees “back-stage”. Being in the entertainment business it is very natural for Disney to refer to guest areas as onstage and cast member areas as backstage, the distinction between the two is as strong as night and day. Only in backstage areas are cast members permitted to eat, drink, and relax. Stepping through a door to an onstage area usually has a mirror hanging for the cast member to check if their costume is in order and put a smile on their face with a sign posted as a reminder “You are preparing to walk on-stage”. All organizations can take this concept and apply to their businesses to some degree.
Questions managers should ask are: Do we have a designated backstage area for employees to eat, drink, and take a break away from the customer view? It helps to keep employees fresh and energized. Another question is: do we make our employees aware that when they are in a customer area they are being watched by the customer at all times. Do they know what are appropriate onstage behaviors and what are inappropriate onstage behaviors?
Together all these elements create an image of who your organization is and how you want employees to treat each other and their customers. A Name Does Matter.