It’s About Time

I remember a former colleague telling me about a performance review she once had. She was working as an assistant manager at a nationally known restaurant chain. It was kind of an upscale chain and as an assistant manager you would have been pretty well paid.

 

The day of her performance review arrived and she anticipated receiving high marks because she was in fact an excellent assistant manager. Almost.

 

As she expected her review went well; her manager pointed out several key areas where she outperformed expectations. She was equally as great with the staff as she was with customers. She understood the business and executed against the company objectives extremely well. Her manager offered abundant praise for her skills, abilities, and overall performance. 

 

Then, right in front of her and with great fanfare he tore her review into small pieces and tossed it in the trash. She sat there in shock for a moment before asking what he was doing. He replied that he threw it away because it didn’t really matter, it didn’t matter because there was one major flaw that made her skills and abilities far less valuable to the organization.

 

She had a problem, apparently a major problem, with punctuality. She was always running late, sometimes a few minutes and sometimes longer, sometimes much longer. 

 

He told her that all the skills and ability in the world didn’t matter if she couldn’t be counted on to be at work to use them. As an assistant manager she was setting a terrible example for the people she was supposed to be leading. 

 

The legendary former coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Bud Grant, has always said that a player’s greatness was not only determined by what he did on the field, it was also determined by how often he was on the field. He makes the point that for a professional athlete durability is every bit as important as ability. 

 

No matter what profession you happen to be in you must know that skills don’t matter as much if your organization can’t count on you to be there when they need you. 

 

Punctuality matters. Your ability to be on time affects people’s perception of you as a professional. Calling from your cell phone to say “you’re running late” is not a substitute for being on time. 

 

Research shows that most people are terminated from jobs because of some sort of attitude problem. Chronic tardiness is not a time management problem, it isn’t a traffic problem, it isn’t a lack of sleep problem. It IS an attitude problem. Chronic tardiness projects either a “just don’t care” attitude or a “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude but either way it’s an attitude that you don’t want to be known for. 

 

If you can be a few minutes late everyday then you can also be a few minutes early everyday. 


You just have to decide that it’s about time to be more professional.

What Your Customer Knows

I have heard one too many complaints lately about customers and most of the complaints have been from people in customer service roles. They have come from kind of a wide variety of businesses but the majority have been from people working in the retail industry. 

 

It’s those complaints and additional comments regarding customers that prompted this post. 

 

While the complaints and comments have come from a variety of industries they all seem to have the same underlying theme…. “we” would have much easier jobs if it weren’t for these pesky, demanding customers. 

 

Keep in mind that the vast majority of these comments have come from people specifically charged with caring for customers. 

 

I find that amazing. 

 

Now I don’t think they actually mean that they wish all their customers would leave; if they would just listen for a second to what they are saying I’m certain they would quickly realize how foolish they sound. 

 

It’s a couple of other comments however which are really concerning. A couple of people I had lunch with recently work in the call center for a huge brick & mortar retailer with thousands of stores around the United States.

 

It became clear that they really believed a good many customers they dealt with on the phone all day were just plain stupid. They assured me however that they were experts in hiding that “belief” from those same customers. I think these two “professionals” honestly believed that the customers were so dumb that they could not tell the true feelings of the reps on the phone. 

 

If you’re a customer service representative of any kind and you told me 1000 times that you had the absolute ability to hide your true feelings and emotions from the customers you interact with I would tell you 1000 times that you are wrong. 

 

And I don’t believe in telling anyone they are wrong. But in this case you are as wrong a wrong could be.

 

You can only hide the fact that you believe the people you’re dealing with are stupid for so long. Sooner or later, likely sooner, much sooner, the people will figure it out. A few words here, a little tone of voice there and your “professional” demeanor is betrayed. 

 

Your customers know whether or not you respect them. Your customer knows whether or not you value their business. They know when you think they are a pain in the butt. I mean seriously, you can tell when you’re annoying someone, you can tell when the customer service rep just wants to get you off the phone….well guess what, your customers can tell that too. 

 

But that’s not the important lesson in this post. The lesson is this: your customers are NOT stupid. Yes, they may get some things wrong, they might not understand all your “policies” and they may at times exaggerate because they don’t trust you enough to take the matter seriously if they don’t. You likely do know more about their situation than they do but hey, you’re supposed to, you’re getting paid for it.

 

If you’re in any kind of position where you interact with customers you must treat with them the full level of respect that they deserve and I didn’t say deserve by accident. They aren’t just paying for your products, they are paying to be treated fairly and with respect. If you find yourself unable to do that on a very consistent basis then you need to find another line of work. Sorry to be so direct with that but hey, if you’re not taking care of the customer you’re not taking care of the business. 

 

There is this great big hulking monster of retail out there largely unencumbered by bricks and mortar who will take care of your customer if you don’t and in doing so they will take your business with them. 

 

In today’s business environment if you think that outstanding customer service is optional you won’t need to be thinking much longer.


Think about that! 

Are you a VIP?

Are you an important person? Are you perhaps even a Very Important Person? Are you so important that you’re more important than someone else?

 

If the answer to those first two questions was a resounding yes then good for you. Understanding that you have value in this world and to those around you is healthy and in fact necessary for success.

 

If however, your answer to that third question was also a yes, even a hesitant yes, well then not so good for you.

 

It’s great to know that no one in this world is more important than you. But…. it’s only useful to know if you also know that you’re no more important than anyone else. As you’re sitting in the back seat of a limousine watching someone board the city bus for their commute to work you may start feeling pretty good about your station in life. That’s fine, you have likely earned what you have. But it’s vital that you understand that “what you have” doesn’t make you a better or more important human being than someone who may have less “stuff” or a lower position in their organization.

 

Leaders are people, just people. They begin to fail as a leader the moment they begin to think they are something more. They begin to lose touch with the world and the people who make them a leader. Their view of reality begins to cloud over and they begin to believe that they “deserve” more than the people they lead.

 

Leaders who think they are better people than those they lead build walls between themselves and their people. They kill the morale of the people that both the leader and their people will need to succeed. Leaders who think they are better people than anyone else are very limited leaders.

 

They miss the most vital part of leadership: an understanding that leadership is about people, people and only people. Anything in business, or life, not related to people is just management or process. When people are involved, it’s leadership.

 

Anything that someone in a leadership position does that separates them from their people makes them a less effective leader. ANYTHING!

 

No one is more important than you and you’re no more important than anyone else. When you live your life with that simple balance people will be drawn to you. Your leadership experience will be one that makes a difference for everyone it touches. 


Now that’s pretty darn important!