Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just a quick break between study-topics.

Here's the thing. I've just about had it with companies that don't empower their employees to make a decision on their own or to exercise judgement. In the same vein, I'm sick of employees who blindly follow "the rules" and are incapable of thinking for themselves.

Case in point. Tonight I went to the Greyhound station to pick up a package that had come in (pre-paid). In their defense, the cargo area was closed. However, upon finding the closed door, I walked into the terminal and asked the ticket lady if she could grab the package for me. The cargo area was wide open and lit, and she had just returned from there, having done something on the phone involving waybills. So, it didn't seem like a stretch to me to make a simple request.

"Hello, I didn't realize the cargo area closed at 6:00. I thought it was open until 9:00. Is it possible to pick up a package that has come in for me; please?"

"Cargo is closed and cashed out"

"Well, that's ok. The package is pre-paid, I just need to pick it up and sign the form that says I've received it."

"If I do it for you, I have to do it for everybody."

At this point I mentioned that the terminal is empty and that there is nobody else, she'd have to do it for.

"Cargo is closed"

"Yeah I know, but the package is probably my daughter's birthday present and her birthday is tomorrow. It is pre-paid, so all you'd have to do is give it to me and get me to sign the form."

"Cargo is closed."

Some grumbling from me and I leave.

Now, I get that the area is closed and that I should have checked the hours etc... I get that But, if the lights in cargo are on and the ticket lady has just been working in there... should she not be able to either a) make a decision for herself as to whether or not to help and b)come up with a better explanation than "if I do it for you, I have to do it for everybody."

I mean seriously. Use your damn brain. Look at the person in front of you, decide whether or not the request is reasonable and then act on that request/judgement. Don't just blindly follow "the rules" without being able to give a coherent explanation of why you can't help.

Business owners, listen up:

1) Encourage your employees to think for themselves and interpret "rules" to fit the situation.
2) Retailers, allow your staff the leeway to give a small discount if it will keep your customers happy.
3) Don't hire mindless drones who will end up costing you business because they were "just following the rules". Innovation and critical thinking will win everytime.

Three simple ideas. Nothing earth-shattering. 

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