Posts Tagged ‘enterprise responsibility’

Blocking

28/April/2009

I am back. Maybe not for a long time, but I would like to share what I learn every day. And, again, my trigger was a driving experience.

I was driving along a very wide avenue. It was not new for me, but I started to note that some drivers were going not in between the lines that delimit the lanes, but exactly over the lines. What was their intention? After some blocks following their movements (with my eyes, not with the car), the behavior was obvious: they were “reserving” lanes. I mean, they were blocking the traffic from two lanes at the same time, waiting for a hole in the traffic that allows them to advance faster than the rest of the cars. And they succeeded and, really, they went faster. If this is really a method to accelerate traffic without modifying the max speeds, why not to use it broadly? Why not to erase the lines off the streets?

I am not such innocent. The answer is simple: they were faster than the rest just because they were only a few percentage of the drivers. They can go faster because almost all respect the rules and go along the lanes.

We see every day people at the enterprises that outstands over the rest of the employees. There are categories, but some of them belong to the one that break the rules and, because of that, achieve higher results, at least in some way. And they are seen almost as superheroes because of that attitudes.

If we analyze them in detail, we can spot some of the former drivers’ behaviors: they tend to “block” lanes, managing more than one matter at a time, waiting for one of them to become “high” in the top management’s mind, to fill the hole and advance faster than the rest. Probably they didn’t see it beforehand; they block the way to others so they can’t use the holes even if they saw it. But the “blockers” succeed. Is that a winning behavior?

Back to the driving example. Suppose all the street lines are erased so everybody can go wherever they want. I think that there will be a real mess and the whole traffic will become slower than before. Lot slower. The only reason to the success of the “blocking” strategy is that there is much more people that respect the rules than people that block lanes. In the enterprise example, what would happen if all of us do whatever we want, and do not follow the rules? That is, not to do our chores, our assigned tasks, just because we are doing a lot of things to block other’s lanes.

There will be always people that break the rules, people that prefer to excuse rather than asking for permission to do things. And sometimes it is a good strategy, not only for them but for the whole company; for example, when they “block” the way to someone that really prefer not to do his assigned task. But for the company, the best strategy is to have people assigned to every function that is needed, and to be the assigned person to do the assigned tasks. If everybody start to do what they want, the whole company will slow down.

Regards,

    Diego :D

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