Image: “Waiting for the Flatbed” by Monique Lusse
Today was the day that the Salvation Army was coming to pick up a bunch of my mom’s furniture. I inherited her stuff, all her stuff, when she died last year. I understand now why many traditional cultures have a period of mourning, at least a year. Took me that long to get out of grief brain and make decisions about what to keep and what to let go of. I had been waiting for this day since I scheduled the pickup at the end of June.
Called their automated line at 7.30am this morning to find out what my 3-hour window was gonna be: 8-11am.
Noon rolled around and still no truck. I called, got in the queue to talk to Customer Service, found out there were 22 people ahead of me; I hung up and called back later.
Got a lovely woman (after she talked to the five people ahead of me.) “Oh, we don’t pick up in Bonny Doon.” (rural region up narrow winding roads in the Santa Cruz mountains in California.)
Three deep breaths while I experienced an immediate surge of anger and let it pass on through.
“I specifically told the gal I made this appointment with back on June 26th that I lived in Bonny Doon and I asked her specifically if they came up this far because not many charities will and she said,’ no problem’.”
The very nice woman today repeated, “I’m sorry, but we don’t service that area.”
Three more deep breaths.
“May I speak with your supervisor, please?” I asked.
Jennifer, her supervisor, came on the phone after a long bit, and I explained it all to her. She said she’d have to listen to the tape of that June call and get back to me in 1/2 an hour, one hour tops.
Now here’s the point of this whole story. Her response.
“It clearly wasn’t handled properly. I will write this up and submit it to her supervisor and it’ll go into her permanent record and she will be reprimanded. She clearly didn’t respond to the prompts from the system to ask you where in the 95060 zip code you are because we don’t go above the university (UC Santa Cruz). And I’m sorry, but I can’t reschedule this.”
Yes, the employee messed up. But it’s not only and all her fault, just like it’s not all a student’s fault 100% if they don’t get a new concept.
And really, fault is not a helpful word here. A screw up is feedback. Feedback that something in they system isn’t working. It’s information.
In this case, management had also messed up. The employee hadn’t been properly or sufficiently trained. Reprimanding an employee and putting demerits in their personnel file is not managing. Not only is punitive and humiliating, it just doesn’t work.
People will mess up. That’s a given. Instead of looking for blame, look with curiosity. Why did it happen? And what can management do to support the employee so that this doesn’t happen again? What can we learn from this situation to improve our employee’s effectiveness AND our customers’ experience?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about coddling or never firing an employee. I am talking about accountability. Use the feedback to make the necessary tweeks, and hold everyone accountable: the employee AND the manager. Sometimes firing someone or reassigning them is the right thing to do.
Financial operations management is not all about number crunching and spreadsheets and financial ratios; it’s also about identifying those areas of your business that impact your clients and seeing if there are procedures in place that are not helping you retain your clients, or worse still, sending them away with nothing but bad things to say about you. Because money touches every part of your business, my job as a virtual CFO is to look at every part of the business and suggest improvements.
Ready to take a candid look at your business practices with an eye to doubling your profits? Schedule a free Financial Clarity Call with me and let’s see about getting this done for you.
To your financial peace of mind,