Group Dynamic

Alan Feirer's thoughts on leadership issues

“…miscommunications” part two…

without comments

A few weeks ago, I shared an unusual incident involving an appliance installer, and the Facebook discussion after I shared it online.

After the post, there was a bit more discussion, and I also finally offered my thoughts on the issue.  This week, I’ll share that “coda.” Some of asked how it turned out – “whatever ended up happening to that guy?” I don’t know, and I’m not investigating it; it’s none of my business. Is it?

Review the original post, if need be, before reading on:

Bobby Jennings: Alright…so… regardless of his involvement in MMA, the worker shouldn’t have been talking about it. Truth be told, I’m sure some customers aren’t kosher with having a person who beats other people for fun in their homes–the guy really needs a lesson in appropriate workplace banter. Mr. Feirer, I disagree with the commenter stating you ought to tell it to the worker directly; NO, that’s what their supervisors are paid for. It doesn’t matter if it’s close to Xmas. It doesn’t matter the economy is a crap-shoot. Fact of the matter is, he was discussing a subject which has nothing to do with installing your laundry units or his work schedule–ergo, he should have bit his tongue. Tolerance is fine as is in this society. Tolerance belongs to accepting people of various backgrounds (ethnics, creed, gender, orientation); tolerance in the workplace has nothing to do with intelligence or customer service. Letting stuff slide from one’s radar is why customer service and education has become so decrepit. Consumers need to be vigilant about who they shop from and hold sales associates & etcetera to the high standards companies say they have.

Tyra Reasoner: See? Rob would have fired him.

Alan Feirer: This, in isolation, is not a fireable offense.
This, in aggregate, over the long term, IS grounds for dismissal.
This is behavior that needs to change, thus it requires feedback from the manager. Failure to do so is a failure of management, not the employee, and not the consumer. The boss needs to provide feedback in order to show the behavior is not condoned, and that it is in conflict with performance expectations.

I would be shocked and disillusioned if Frank failed to address this the moment they were in the truck. I would not have recommended that Frank address it in front of me. Again, my relationship with Frank is familiar and friendly. Lance is a trainable hard worker, and Frank ought to treat him with respect in front of the customer, then give him specific direct no-nonsense feedback once they are alone.

Customer service is a critical area of performance management, and is key to retaining business. It’s not the only area, though; my appliance was installed properly, my old one removed, and they did this all exactly when they said they would; it was done quickly, and without mess. By a local small business who is active in the local Chamber of Commerce. So, overall job performance is quite satisfactory. Inappropriate conversations in the customer’s earshot must stop, however.

During the exchange, though, I wasn’t being a consultant — I was Alan the frequent customer. I would have felt comfortable saying things more strongly to Lance, but I didn’t want to usurp Frank’s role — would have been disrespectful to him. As Bobby pointed out, it’s not my role.

Bobby Jennings: Tyra, I did not say I would fire him–I would have made sure he’d get written up for this offense. However, if I were his boss, should a 2nd customer make a 2nd report about his behavior…BOOM. I would then fire him clearly stating which actions he made were in poor taste and I’d make it very clear I would have nothing positive to say if potential future employer were to call to fact-check his time of employment with me. I’ve fired people in the past for this sort of situation. I’ve fired them for far greater and lesser. I’ve done a lot of 3rd-party work were the customer didn’t mind, but the client was irked…drop goes the ax.

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I do not intend to revisit this event anymore – the lessons seem to stand out well enough now.  However, your thoughts are always welcome!

Written by Alan Feirer

January 18th, 2012 at 10:57 am