Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Employees, Get Your Act Together

I am really tired of shitty service. With so many people out of work one would think that employees with jobs would be trying really hard to keep their jobs.
This has not been my experience lately. Two recent experiences demonstrate, but are not the limitation, of my viewpoint.

Last Sunday at the Chili's downtown Chicago, two kids meals, a soup and salad, and a pasta dish took twenty minutes to deliver. The restaurant was at least 50% full but not more than 75%. About fifteen minutes after placing our order, I started looking for our waiter. We hadn't seen him in some time, possibly since placing the order. Finally, I stood up and walked to the kitchen where I spied him carrying a tray holding our meal. The pasta and soup were lukewarm and the kids meals had obviously been sitting under the warmer. Seriously, dummy, just come and tell us that you screwed up and ask if you should bring the kids' meals out, the soup out, or something to keep my kids from acting toward the wrong side of their age behavior spectrum. We did not bother complaining. If you've been to a restaurant with small children, you know what a ticking time bomb each experience can be, just waiting for one to be done and demonstratively ready to leave. If you're wondering where the manager was during all of this, don't worry, so was I. I took the time to fill out the online survey to slam my experience.

Then there's Jewel on Ashland Ave. Many times when I'm checking out, the checkers are talking across the lines to one another. That's terribly unprofessional. One woman, in particular, always stands out. She never appears to be happy and is frequently heard gossiping about life or moaning about work. I don't want to hear it. It's uncomfortable as a customer to listen to all of this. She was checking my order and whining about her crappy life to her co-workers. Seriously, I know you have problems lady, but I don't want to hear about them while you're on the job and I'm making a purchase. After weighing the pros and cons, I called the manager after leaving the store and mentioned this behavior with the caveat that she's probably a good person, but that this was not the first time I'd heard her and, if I'm the manager, I want to hear about it. Call me a tattle tale, that is, unless you're a shareholder.

If I am ever again a manager, one of the first things that I will tell my crew regards professional conduct. First and foremost, when you are at work, you are not you, the individual. You are the company. And unless you are truly a specialist in your field, you are probably replaceable.

That is not to say that these are bad jobs or that the people doing them lack intelligence or creativity. There are many great employees who take their jobs seriously and make the customer's experience positive while taking care of routine upkeep.

The employees who are not doing so should be made to know that they are replaceable, that training a new person is far less expensive than having a cancer on the floor. A neutral customer experience can bring a customer back. A positive one and she'll send another customer. A bad experience will keep that customer, her family, and her friends from coming back.

And yet so many - the vast, yet visible and audible, minority - do not take the customer experience seriously and say things like, "I just work here." They stare at the clock waiting to punch it instead of finding ways to make the company better and be better at their jobs.

The cynic says, That's why these people have these jobs - they are not motivated individuals. I believe people have great capacity if only they give themselves the proper motivation. It's maintaining your job motivation enough?

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