Service Culture, Please?

Perhaps this falls into the category “what is wrong with people today”, but that is not my intent. But I have a beef. Best to explain with an example:

As part of a review of internal procedures, I asked a consultant to send me a list of penalties for violations of certain regulations. He send me an 8-page excerpt from the law (in 8-point font) and provides no direction on where I can find information on the one issue we had discussed.

What was the impact of his action? Well, first, I questioned the “consulting” part of abilities, and second, fearing more of the same, we plan not to engage his services for the work we were tendering. Note that we have not told him this yet, and after 6 weeks, he has not even called once to follow up. Not the guy for the job.

Imagine asking for a set of financial statements and being presented with a printed copy of all general ledger transactions. The message is: here it is, you sort it out because I can’t be bothered.

I am not a high-maintenance manager that demands customized service. I am, however, someone who tries to add value, and most of the time that means serving others, and that means going the extra mile.

Whether we are in credit or not, if we sit at a desk, we are information/knowledge workers. In order to add value you need to provide information and not just data.

Let me rephrase: we need to provide usable information.

The best employee I ever worked with, Julie, was great at this. Not only would she prepare everything accurately and clearly, when she ran into something she did not understand, she studied it, found a solution, and brought the solution to me and asked if she was right. And she almost always was right.

As a result of my and others’ increased confidence in her, she was given greater and greater responsibilities. We treated each other as equals out of mutual respect, and we knew we had each others’ back. Our work lives were easier and more enjoyable as a result.

What I have learned is that when asked to provide information, if I do not know what the end use of that info is, I ask. If I cannot ask, I make a guess and then provide context to the recipient of what I did and why.

Even if my guess is wrong, I have communicated two things to my boss:

  • I could provide more value if I have better information
  • I serve notice that my brain is on when I work

A wise person told me: people are the way they are for a reason. You do not have to fix that problem, but you may have to give them a reason to be something different.

Twenty percent of staff take eighty percent of your time, likely because they need it. Invest that time and show them how to add value.

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