Some people don’t like where they work… at all. They may even despise who they report to. And since their work environment is so “toxic”, they choose to withhold their best quality of work. “THIS PLACE does not deserve the best I have to offer. I will come to work, only do what is expected of me, collect my paycheck, and go home.” Do you know anyone like that?
The problem with that line of thinking is that if you repeatedly choose to give the bare minimum, then eventually you will be comfortable giving the bare minimum. Yes, you would have unknowingly formed not only a habit, but a bad habit. At some point, you may not even know what excellent work looks like… and begin to think that you are not capable of being excellent. To be excellent is what you are called to be, and to be exceptional is what you are called to.
During a recent hotel stay, I decided that I wanted to have some hot tea late one night. Since it was a limited service hotel, ordering room service was not an option. It was around 11PM, and I called the front desk to see where I could possibly get some tea from. The employee told me, “Our restaurant has already closed, so tea will be available in the morning for breakfast”. Click.
Now, I obviously knew that tea and hot water had to be available somewhere on the property, but I decided to wait and speak to the manager in the morning. When I spoke with the manager the next morning, he was upset about what happened and even showed me the employee mini-break area that was only a few feet behind the front desk. The break area had a refrigerator, and the refrigerator was stacked with… wait for it… tea! All types of tea.
So, here are a few reasons why the front desk agent may have responded the way he did:
a) He legitimately didn’t know there was tea available (yeah right).
b) He is only comfortable working within the strict parameters of his job.
c) He doesn’t like his job and/or where he works and has chosen not to do one more ounce than he absolutely has to.
You cannot allow anyone (or any work environment) to rob you of your zeal to be exceptional. As difficult as it may be, you must push through any disdain you may have and honor your role, honor who you are serving and honor yourself. At some point, each person has to make a decision about how exceptional he/she wants to be, regardless of the work environment. Eventually, it can be quite fatiguing to constantly strive for excellence in a work environment that you can’t stand to be in.
In that case, see if you can address your discontentment with the appropriate people, or find somewhere else to work. But don’t just find “any place” to work. Search for a company that has values which mirror your own.Ultimately, it’s important to work for a company that you believe in.
Adjusting Your Service
Some people have a habit of adjusting their service based on how important they believe a particular customer is. One of the reasons that is so dangerous is because you really never know who you are serving or what their circumstances may be. We have no right to treat anyone like they are “just a customer”. That is simply wrong, and even immoral. Every customer has a story and it is our obligation to honor that customer regardless of what the story may be.
Never again be lulled into the fallacy that it’s OK to give the bare minimum. Savagely fight that fallacy with everything you’ve got. Be exceptional despite the work environment. Stephen Covey wisely wrote, “Be an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity”. While that certainly can happen, try to find a team, manager and company that allow you to work among many islands of excellence in an ocean happy to have you there.
In the end, service has a purpose, and a noble purpose at that. We serve because serving is a good thing, and good things are worthy to be exalted. There is significance to your role. There is purpose to your role. If you truly understand what that means, then you have the ability to impact lives, one customer at a time.
About the Author: Dr. Bryan K. Williams is a keynote speaker, author and consultant. He has facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world for various companies. He speaks on a variety of topics related to service excellence, employee engagement, and leadership effectiveness. Bryan’s four books and two annual conferences are rich resources to help any organization build a strong culture around service excellence.
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