Archive for July, 2008

The power of thanks

22/July/2008

This story is going to be very short. After being some moments stopped by the red traffic light, the queue of cars started moving. I was about tenth in the line, so I didn’t have a good view of the next corner, but it seemed most of the cars were turning left, as it was my intention. When I was near to turn, I stopped to let the walking people cross the street. Then, something weird happened: at the same time I received an insult from the car behind me and from one of the persons I was giving pass to cross the street. The first one argued that he was going to miss the green light and would have to wait, and the pedestrian because nobody before let him cross.  I can not say they pissed me off, but it was a bitter time for me.

I have talked about people that get mad because other goes by the rules, so the driver behind me, even with no right, can be understood. The one I really don’t understand is the pedestrian’s behavior.

I will try to re enact the situation from his point of view: I am a pedestrian trying to cross the street, a lot of cars turn the corner in front of me, no one let me cross until one of the follows the rules and give priority to crossing people. The driver let me cross and, instead of “thank you”, I curse him because of the other’s actions.

Everyone expects the people follow the rules and obbey the laws. Every manager expects that a task, given to the people that should do it, will be performed in time and with the right amount of quality. But that person, even if he knows that he only followed the rules, expects at least a “thank you”. And what he really doesn’t expect is that you complain to him because others in his “class” don’t react the same way.

Thank you is powerful. Use it a lot, even if the one you are thanking for just did what he should.

Regards,

    Diego :D

Advertisements

Bringing down your image

13/July/2008

I was going to my parents home, using the highway, as I mentioned in other blog entry. I was ahead of my schedule, so I was not hurry as other times; that means I was on the second or third lane, out of six. A small truck started to get near me, and the driver did not slow down until he was at no more than about two meters from me. Going at more than 60 mph, this was too close, for me and for everyone. There was almost no traffic, but the driver decided that I must move to another lane, instead of he moving to the left lane to overpass me. He put my kids and myself on danger, and really pissed me off.

It was a high stress moment. I reacted very bad and cursed the driver even with the kids in the car. After a while, having left the highway, I calmed down and, strangely, I remembered the phone number written in the front of the truck. I called and described my point, and the company told me they would talk to the driver. And there is more: I remembered the name of the company. From that moment, a company I will never use or recomend, even after the promise they made to me.

The image is a powerful but ephemeral concept. You can be a model of good behavior for years, and a small mistake is enough to go back to square one.

Companies, specially those who address a big portion of the population, seek, and need, acceptance of the society. They use a lot of means to achieve it, but the one of the first ones is showing the people that they are also part of the society. That includes that they will not do to the others what they do not like done to them.

You can not buy image. Image is constructed around a lot of aspects, some very concise and some than can be seen in an indirect form, but the number of repetitions is far larger than the others. In the case I mentioned at the beginning, an action from an employee affected the image of that company so negatively in my mind, that I will hardly choose that company in the event I need their services. The act was an employee reaction in the street, or with a client, or with a future client, an act that repeats a lot of times per day per employee. It is named as the “truth moment” in the theory: the moment an employee meets a client.

It is not enough to advertise, demonstrate civic responsibility, do donations or implement social help plans; if your employees are not aligned with the social responsibility that the company is claiming for, the image is negatively affected. It is like a policeman dressed in his uniform not acting in a robbery because he is not in service; just because he is dressing the uniform, he is seen as a policeman and must act like it is expected. In terms of image, one must be completely coherent. If a person is associated with your company by his uniform or by the tools he is working with, including the car he is driving, being him or not your employee, being or not in working hours, can affect the image of the whole company. It can be a positive or negative effect, but we all know that is more easy to see and spread the word about a negative action than a positive one. Is a manager responsibility to teach the team how to behave if they are seen as employees of the company.

As you can see, it is not enough to train the “Customer care” employees in the way they must behave in the name of the company. In fact, anyone in the company that talks on behalf of his employer can be seen as a representant of the company, and his word can influence people to construct, or destroy, the image they have about the company. Every little act counts.

See you around. Regards,

    Diego :D