Always treat people with dignity and respect. Build people up. These are not just interesting ideas we talk about in Mandt, they are things everyone should be practicing daily.
This past week I was on the road staying at one of those hotel chains offering a morning breakfast from 6:00 until 9:00. I usually come down for breakfast around 6:20-6:30. One morning, around 6:20 the room seemed busier and a bit more hectic than usual. As I was walking through the lobby I overheard a conversation at the front desk. The manager was talking to (actually talking at) the person responsible for setting up the food. The one sided conversation went something along the lines of “we promise our guests breakfast starts at 6:00am. Does it make any sense for you to walk in the door at 6? After some barely audible response I hear, ”but does it really make sense? Tell me what part of that makes sense to you?” This was still continuing in a similar fashion minutes later as I was taking my food back to my room. The manager seemed to show no interest in talking with the staff person. I also noted that English was probably not the native language of the staff person on the receiving end.
I have no idea what the end result of the conversation was. I do not know if the staff member was written up, suspended, terminated, or nothing else happened. What I do know is I witnessed an extremely poor example of working with people.
Here are a few observations. I do hope each of you reading this can add more.
If there must be a conversation with someone that may not be positive, it should not be held in public. What I witnessed was basically a public shaming. This action will not endear the staff person to the manager and neither will it make any of the guests within earshot think positive thoughts of this manager. I’m not suggesting the manager should throw a party for the ‘late’ staff person. But this may have been an opportunity for education rather than shaming.
Also, I did not hear any attempt by the manager to find out why the staff person was late that morning. That’s not to say it didn’t happen, but the conversation sections I heard were rather repetitious and one sided. Did the staff person experience some tragic event overnight or on their way in to work that morning? Maybe public transit was running late (although I was in a small, rural town in Wyoming at the time)?
People also need to realize that time is a concept. In some cultures, being told that breakfast must be ready at 6:00 and the person arriving at 6:00 could be considered punctual. I do not know if this was part of the issue or not, but we must think about things like this.
This also may involve a lesson in teamwork. On more than one occasion at this hotel chain I have seen managers getting food ready because their kitchen staff was out sick/called in/didn’t show. What had that manager done that morning to ensure that food was ready by 6:00? Maybe they had started working on breakfast, but I rather doubt it. From the sounds of things I would be more likely to believe that the manager had been sitting there waiting to reprimand this employee as soon as they walked in. That does not make for good teamwork with this employee or any others.
I’m sure that there are many more lessons that can be gleaned from this experience. We need to remember that we are always serving as role models to those around us. Let’s always treat everyone with dignity and respect. Let’s always strive to build people up rather than tear them down.
Dr Dale Shannon – Director of Instructional Design & Governance