Connecting With And Engaging Bashful Employees

By Darrin Tonsfeldt
The Village Business Institute 

How important is customer service to your business and what kind of person does it take in your industry to provide exceptional service? Does a bashful employee come to mind? Typically, we don’t think of bashful employees as being exceptional customer service folks. They don’t fit the customer service stereotype of being outgoing and wonderful at small talk, with great eye contact and a hardy handshake; though those bashful types or behind-the-scenes employees may be the most important customer service providers on our teams.

Savvy businesses understand not all of their customer service folks are comfortable at the front of the room meeting and greeting people. Some of our most important employees are folks who work in what can be considered non-customer contact positions. These are the workers who fill orders, machine-tool parts, handle accounts payable functions, etc. Very often these people are the service providers behind the sales.

A study conducted by Northwestern University’s “Forum for People Performance Management & Measurement” looked at the impacts of non-customer contact employee’s attitudes and behaviors on company performance. In brief, they found that there is a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance. In addition they reported the key characteristic explaining employee satisfaction was the quality of communication both up and down the chain of command. So what does this mean in terms of our bashful employees?

There are a few things to keep in mind. Getting someone who is shy or bashful engaged in a conversation requires sensitivity to the stress the individual experiences if they are put on the spot in front of a group. One-on-one conversations are often the better way to initially build rapport and trust and get information to and from the bashful employee. In such conversations, help the employee understand their input, ideas and creativity are needed to ensure the success of the business.

As trust builds, provide opportunities for the bashful employee to find success in speaking to small groups or providing input in team meetings. The expectation is not that they become extroverts or dramatically change who they are. The goal here is for the employee to become an engaged member of the team.

Being a non-customer contact employee does not necessarily mean a person is bashful; however, when you have an employee who is not speaking up or participating on your team it can be an indicator of barriers to successful communication. Barriers limiting quality communications up and down your businesses chain of command can have an adverse impact on your financial performance.

Consultants at The Village Business Institute are experts in helping businesses improve communications, employee engagement and customer satisfaction and in turn help your business be more financially successful. To speak to one of our highly qualified consultants call us at 800-627-8220 or visit our website at

About the blogger
Darrin Tonsfeldt has a background of program administration, employee supervision, and clinical experience, as well as 20 years of experience in organization consulting and planning. He provides oversight of The Village Business Institute, Regional Counseling Services, and Financial Resource Center programs. He also provides consulting services that include strategic planning; career, leadership, management, and executive coaching; corporate training and group facilitation; crisis response in the workplace; and organizational consulting.