In a recent conversation with a friend who works for a major global services provider, I stood, mouth opened, to what he was sharing with me.
Here was someone, with over 20 years service in front line, i.e. serving high-end Clients directly, without a day off in that time for sickness. Earlier this year he had cause to not be able to work, being signed off by the Doctor, spending one or two nights in Hospital and needing to take medication throughout.
During his time off, some sixteen days in total, he felt he was hounded by his Manager, those responsible for his shift schedules, and made to feel ‘less than’, because he was off sick. I understand why it is necessary to for organisations like this to know what is going on, but the way he described the conversations certainly opened my eyes. On returning to work he felt the way he was being treated about needing to arrange his workings around a Hospital appointment to be unreasonable.
Of course, in any conversations like this, we only ever hear one side of the story, but it did get me thinking.
Firstly, were they really listening to my friend, were they listening to the person obviously committed to his job. If so, what would they have heard? What would they have learned? In being fully heard how would my friend have responded? How differently might he have shared his story? Secondly, does he feel trusted, i.e. were they doubting his sickness? Does he feel like he is being treated like a child rather than the mature adult? Finally, he serves, as in really serves face to face, high-end Clients of this company. How much of his goodwill has now been eroded? What are his levels of tolerance and patience now? Will his Clients feel different, at an unconscious level, now?
For sure, he will continue to be professional, but we have all experienced professional service with little or no heart, and it really feels different.
Contrast this with a company I am proud to know very well. One lady was due to start working for the said company on the Monday. On the previous Friday a close relative passed away and so she called in to explain the situation. They listened, she felt heard, and they told her to take as much time off as she needed. She ended up starting work a week later than planned. Imagine her surprise when she realised she had been fully paid for that first week. What a different story she will be telling her friends about her new company. How different a mindset will she have when she is working, serving her Customers? How will that goodwill ‘rub off’ on all those she interacts with over the course of a day?
Two different people, two different organisations, two very different results.
Which one listened? Which one cared?