Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Mystery of Poor Performance

We all experience the impact of poor performance. Think about a time when you sat in waiting room for eons, shifted uneasily for the hundredth time in an airport boarding area seat, couldn't understand the person taking your order (and wondered whether or not they understood you), and hundreds more similar situations.

Many years ago in a long-forgotten era, my sister and I travelled to a family funeral in a rural US location where airline service is not and was not frequent. Basically, we flew into a city that did have national airline service and then drove the rest of the way. On the return flight, we have several boxes of knick-knacks from our deceased grandmother's house. When putting them through the airlines baggage claim, we were presented with a three-page page form describing the rules, responsibilities and reparations. I read fast and was done before my sister even got started. The gentleman (and I use that term loosely) behind the baggage claim area made a nasty comment about the time it took us to read the legalese, which made my sister uncomfortable. She was willing to sign on the dotted line without read. At that point, I told her to take her time. There was no one in line and it was important that she know what she was signing. Then I added, "Besides, as a customer service trainer, I know that its important for us as customers to stand up for what we need... and you need time to read and understand three pages of legal."

Later, as we boarded the flight, the gentleman who had been at the baggage drop off was now our ticket taker for boarding the flight. This time, he was all service and smiles.

The point of the story? Did this employee of the airline think that one set of behaviors was acceptable for baggage work and a different set acceptable for boarding? Had he been trained that way? Or, had he taken my comment about customer service to heart?

That's the mystery of poor performance. Why can a good person give both bad performance and good performance within minutes?

The six boxes of performance, http://www.sixboxes.com/sixboxesgraphic.html, give some hints. Which did I impact as a customer merely commenting on my perception of my role as the consumer? For more details on Dr. Carl Binder's six-boxes methodology and the performance chain, try http://www.sixboxes.com/The_Model.html. This model is a wonderful tool for talking with management and other interested players about the role of performance improvement in the workplace... school, non-profit... or home.

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