At the risk of sounding pessimistic or negative I am sharing my thoughts about a topic near and dear to me. More often than no, I believe people suck at their jobs. I don’t think this suckage is always intentional and I do not believe people WANT to suck at their jobs. I am not here to blame individuals for their suckage nor to suggest this is necessarily related to the individuals.
My point here is to suggest that there is a problem with the SYSTEM of employment, work, the market, whatever. The arena ‘out there’ we participate in from multiple sides. We are simultaneously the consumer, the client, the employed, and the employer. We are the consumer and the consumed. We are supply and demand. We are it and it is us. And so the irritatingly slow service we get at a restaurant is as much our fault as anyone involved.
With THAT out of the way let me list a few examples from my personal life that have happened over the past couple of weeks whereI encountered someone sucking at their job:
-the employee at Home Depot who didn’t feel like finding the ‘customer needing assistance in plumbing’ and either didn’t respond to the request or was going to take an hour to reach me
-the drive thru attendant at McDonalds who thought it was appropriate to share their life story (inappropriate level of detail) with me rather than give me my credit card back
-the general contractor who thought it was cool to tell me, repeatedly, he was emailing me a quote but never intended (apparently) to do so even after multiple conversations and texts
-the electrician who thinks ‘next week’ means ‘whenever he feels like it but much longer than two weeks’
-the state employees who contradict each other about the steps to take to renew a passport and where said steps are to occur
-the bank employee who thinks ‘direct deposit’ means ‘mail a check’
-the bank teller who can’t look up my account from my id (standard procedure and preferred), but requires my account number (normal way I do it)
I could go on.
And a lot of these might be related to incompetence. Often the employees’ misbehavior is a result of simply being disgruntled. And mostly I can empathize and even agree with these sentiments. Many of these jobs suck, convey suckage, and perpetuate that message to the client/customer/consumer. I get that.
And sometimes staff are more afraid of their bosses’ reaction than a customers. I get that, too. While I have seen customers be rude, I have seen more bosses to tyrannical. Again, I sympathize.
And more than anything I get that the work conditions, pay rate, hours, and commute inherent to many of these jobs (especially the hourly pay rate) SUCK so bad that it is nearly impossible to convey positivity to the customer.
I get all that – it’s not that I don’t understand WHY the behavior is occurring. No, what amazes me is that it is allowed to perpetuate. I don’t blame the EMPLOYEE, I blame the SYSTEM.
Call me naive, because I am, but I fundamentally believe there is a solution to this, and really almost any, problem. And if you have listened to my Accountability (Episode 68) episode you know where I stand on this issue. So what gets me, when I see an employee act questionably, is why they persist in the SYSTEM.
Because, checks and balances. Adaptive management. RIGHT? Don’t we HAVE these things? Aren’t we sophisticated human beings that put taxpayers in SPACE and drive around with smart phones?
So when I see misbehavior in the market place, I conclude that the SYSTEM is screwed somewhere FAR upstream from the problem I am observing. And I’m right about that. We SEE the symptoms, not the problem.
And SOLUTIONS to these problems also lie upstream. For a start, how about the whole shareholder model? When businesses exist to profit for shareholders, I don’t see solutions to problems related to employees and customers – because THAT’S NOT WHAT THE BUSINESS DOES.
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