You’ve seen it – I have too! And it’s becoming more and more prevalent – employees who point fingers, blaming others for their situation, problems, and feelings. Seriously, what ever happened to personal responsibility?
This post is part of the series – What Ever Happened to Personal Responsibility?
Would You Return to Your Organization?
If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?
Leaders are the Most Creative People on the Planet
Great Leaders Serve
Is Fear Taking Over?
This past week I traveled to Washington, DC for my sister’s wedding. I generally prefer to arrive at the airport early to allow plenty of time for the “unexpected”. However, I’m still getting used to a new airport so I was a little rushed.
I arrived at the gate, waited a few moments to board, then made my way to the door as the gate agent began the boarding process.
As the agent began scanning boarding passes, a young mother carrying an infant approached the door. The agent glanced at her boarding pass, scanned it, and emphatically informed her that the airline no longer allows parents with small children to board early. He followed up with, “But we’ll let you do it this time.”
Serve others (without them knowing it)
I’m sure there’s a good reason that American Airlines changed their policy for allowing parents with small children to board early. Maybe other airlines have done the same.[UPDATE: A representative from American Airlines contacted me with the following information: “We do allow pre-boarding when operationally possible. We’re sorry for any inconvenience to the mother traveling.”]
Yet we often create (and change) policies to benefit the organization rather than for the benefit of those whom we are supposed to be serving. Do this long enough and we’ll be serving far fewer people.
The alternative is to serve people – without expecting anything in return. A great way to do this is to serve them without them even knowing that you’ve gone the extra mile. Take personal responsibility!
But that’s hard – because we want others to acknowledge our contribution and to approve. Usually we’re looking for the approval of a supervisor rather than the approval of a satisfied customer. Since when did that start making sense?
We really don’t need to create policies to serve people more effectively. Create a culture of serving and team members will find all kinds of creative ways to serve customers.
Putting people in their place
For some odd reason we like putting people in their place. We want them to know that we “bent over backwards” for them – just this one time!
What if the gate agent had taken personal responsibility for serving the customer? What if he had felt the freedom to do so? What if he had scanned her pass then asked her if there was anything he could do to help her with her baby or carry-on items? Did he really need to inform her about the policy change? What if in her ignorance of the new policy she “takes advantage” of his generosity? What’s the worst that could happen?
My intention is not to pick on the travel industry or American Airlines – that’s not the point. I just happened to be traveling while these thoughts were on my mind.
I’m also not excusing a sense of entitlement. I’m quick to admit that I occasionally struggle with and excuse my tendency to feel entitled – because I work hard, I help others, I’ve been where they are – you know what I mean.
Loyal to whom?
Here’s the point – many fliers are loyal to a brand which values them as customers. I know I am!
I’ll pay a few more bucks for a ticket if I know that my experience is going to be pleasant, the service is going to be excellent, and the team members are going to be able to resolve problems that arise.
As a result, I have a significant number of frequent flier miles and a top-level frequent flier status with an airline I have been using for years.
Since I’ve recently relocated to a new hub-city I have been traveling more on American.
In the past two weeks I have researched how to get better connected with the new airline – book their flights more frequently, begin using their rewards credit card, etc.
I’ve also been observing their customer service as we’ve racked up more than 25,000 miles in the past 8 weeks. How do you think observing this experience will affect my ultimate decision?
Question: Which company are you more likely to return to – one in which representatives blame the boss or a policy or one in which team members regularly take personal responsibility to exceed expectations? In your organization are you cultivating the culture you’re likely return to? Leave your thoughts in the comments.