I have shifted back to my roots of teaching. Teach by example, and utilize real world problems. Why? Case studies of real world problems immerses the student into situations that they actually might encounter. A manager learns by doing, rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty, even with information.
We want to be better managers, rise to the challenge and engage with the world around us. We need to learn new concepts, see them in action, and try to understand potential solutions to minimize damage, and create a positive service recovery. Case based learning helps you to put you innate knowledge to work with the foundations you are learning in class. Recall the days your teacher, your parents helped you figure out that 1 + 1 = 2. It maybe simple representation, but those problem solving skills have been evolving since the moment you dropped from the womb. I am not going to pull punches, we have, deep down, within ourselves the capability to do more than we know. Did you know the simple art of balancing your checkbook is really problem solving skills to manage money. You may not have had accounting yet, or are just now learning the fundamentals, but you have been learning about debit and credits since the moment your guardian, your parental unit took you to the bank that sunny day and opened up your first account. The secret is understanding problem solving is to put the problem into perspective, into action. Is there a real life experience out there, that you can visualize, or read about that would give you insight to your own common sense, and intelligence? I bet there is?
All of you have experienced bad service. How many times have you sat in a restaurant or in a hotel, and ripped apart what was going on about you? How many of you made the comment, “You know what I would do…”
Just the other day in Rite Aid, as I waited in line, the gentlemen behind me was trying my patience I was taking deep breaths over his constant, and loud berating of the pharmacy staff, to basically, “Get a move on!” Words were batted around like a tennis match. “They need to hire more people.” “This is ridiculous!” I was standing in that line, and he asked me why I was there, very rudely. I explained I was obtaining a flu shot. “Well stand right there (on this advertisement on the floor that says get your flu shot), and they’ll give it to you.” Did he not know that this was a diversion tactic by the pharmacy to remind customers to get their flu shot? I had to wait, I had to update my information, and I kept my lips tightly closed, and did not come back with several witty, sarcastic remarks to his constant complaining. Even suppressed my chuckle, when a lady sitting in the chair opposite, made eye contact, and we both rolled our eyes. The man droned on, and had to talk to anyone that would listen just how horrible the service was.
It didn’t matter that it was just at the Noon hour, that there was probably several aides out on their lunch. Stupid me for going at Noon, but well, it was Saturday. It didn’t matter that the gentlemen behind the counter might have been new, maybe he wasn’t, and the system was slow. But there are a host of variables that might have contributed to a slow service day. As employees, all we hear though is those complaints, and frustration of the guest.
How many of you, standing in that line or sitting at the restaurant, realize that here is a teachable moment. Here is an opportunity to watch what the managers and service staff do. I watched the pharmacist that day, and the service personnel. Why didn’t the pharmacist on duty step out and say, thanks for waiting. We are glad you are here, please be patient as our staff is in the midst of lunches and shift changes. Is it not their policy to engage with the customer? Are they just to go about their work, and let the sour faces deepen? Why are they sacrificing an opportunity to tell the customer something? Why didn’t he get on the phone and call another employee to aid him? Or do they have policies specifically stating that only trained personnel (which I would believe) to work in the pharmacy? Maybe someone called in sick, and they are short staff? Maybe a host of them have the flu? Again, a host of questions. Believe me, I was ready to turn to the customer behind me and say, “Is it a great day outside. Nice weather we are having, looks like everyone is out. Boy they are working hard behind the desk, just bear with them, we all have to wait.”
As a manager you have to develop that sixth sense. Return to those days of your toddler years, up to age seven, when you annoyed your parents with so many questions. Service, and service execution, recovery from service failures is about asking the right questions. To continually evaluate and understand the world around you. Examine yourself, examine those around you, be constructive and figure out what you could do better.
And case studies helps you to return to that ability. To see beyond the problem, and get to the heart of why is really going on. So as you read and digest these case studies, ask the hard questions of the case and of yourself. Read books about management, biographies about successful managers. Read about ethics, and morality. Read how someone tackled a financial situation. Every day the news is packed with information about similar situations, you just have to noodle around Google, to find insight. Seek out and find similar stories that might be posted on the Internet. Ask a mentor, ask your parents. Tweet with members of our community.
Here is a post from Richard Branson, on his Linkedin account that I happened to just see, as I was composing this post.
Sometimes, rather than sitting back and complaining about lousy service it really pays to get out there and find a way to improve upon it by reinventing it yourself.
How true he is….