The Answers are Never In Your Office
When I worked for the largest telecommunications company in the United States my director said “Linda, you’re doing so well as a trainer I’m going to transfer you to a position managing the production team. They just lost another manager and you’re good with people”.
It was no secret that this team of clerks was known to be difficult. Among the managers, they were known as “The Village” in reference to an old horror movie. They were under-performers and didn’t care because the union protected them. Working together for eight years had made them a quasi family with their own secret language. I’d heard that two experienced managers left the department, unable to handle them. One actually retired!
I was petrified but up for the challenge.
Managing a group of sixteen employees it’s easy to become mired in paperwork. I could have hidden in my office and no one would have questioned me. But being a trainer had taught me that interaction and support brings success. I intended to make my team of underachieving bad asses the highest producing team with the least amount of errors in our department.
Eventually that’s what I did.
I asked two members to teach me their job which I performed during the first week. The next week, I stated my expectations of performance and created rating standards. I expected push-back but received none. I think they were too shocked.
We discussed their inappropriate behaviors from the past. I made it clear that past behaviors would no longer be tolerated, union or not. I intended to take my scheduled vacation by end of year and did not plan to worry about them while I was gone.
Every morning was spent on the floor among my team. Asking and answering questions, praising them, listening to their ideas and offering support.
It eventually paid off. Mutual respect developed and grew with time.
Vacation time came. I assigned two clerks as co-managers and when I returned, production numbers were the same. The team was in high spirits and extremely proud of themselves.
Today, as I travel around to different spas I am amazed at how much time spa managers spend in their offices.
They don’t come out to interact with the guests or staff except when something goes wrong. They don’t model the engagement that’s necessary to retain a customer. And feedback is rare except during evaluation time.
Dr. Bryan K. Williams says “We exist to serve others so they may better serve the world”.
I challenge you to start spending two hours a day on the floor. Greet your guests and model the type of behavior you wish to see. Your staff will be shocked and a bit perplexed but then pleasantly surprised. Sit in a corner of the reception and relaxation areas and quietly observe. You may be surprised at how your staff interacts with your guests. I think you’ll gain new insight into why your retail numbers aren’t higher.
You can thank me later.