About a year ago I went to Chick-fil-A with my family for an early dinner and ordered the usual — spicy chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and drink. The order came and we dove into our food. As I opened my sandwich to layer on some of that delicious and unnaturally-colored yellow sauce my worst nightmare came true — a hair on the bun.
There is literally nothing worse than hair in your food, in spite of the fact that statistically speaking we probably unknowingly devour a whole bushel of hair every year in the food that we eat.
The Chick-fil-A sauce lady walked by handing out sauces and I pointed out the hair. She was very apologetic and offered a new sandwich, but at that point I couldn’t bear the thought. I declined and she offered a refund instead, which I agreed to. Three minutes later she returned with the cash for my meal and handed it to me and my nightmare continued — a hair stuck to dollar bill she handed me.
I kid you not.
I pointed out the hair and asked if she could refund the refund. At that point, it didn’t matter and we both laughed it off. After all, I had no intention of eating the dollar.
Here’s the real kicker. I kept going to Chick-fil-A.
In fact, just recently I had a Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken sandwich for lunch, which was delicious as usual. In spite of the hair incident, I didn’t forsake Chick-fil-A once and for all.
Customer service. When customer service is on point, it covers a multitude of mistakes. I’m more likely to be forgiving to an organization that tries hard. And the same is true for your business.
As a counter point, about six months ago I started exercising again. Horrible idea, I know. My wife motivated me to do it. We joined the Crossfit craze and my body had been in a constant state of soreness ever since.
As a gift of relief, my wife did something for me that I would never do for myself — she lined up a therapeutic massage appointment for me. I’m not a real fan of strangers putting their hands on me, so I don’t often do this. She told me all I had to do was show up at 4pm and it was all set up.
I left a little early and arrived 15 minutes before my appointment. I walked up to the front desk to check in and the lady behind the desk instantly seemed frazzled.
“I’m here for the 4pm with so-and-so,” I said.
She looked at me blankly, stared down at her scheduled, then swore under her breath. She started to panic and talk to herself and say things like “oh no, not again” and “he’s going to be ticked (her boss).” She said apologetically that she’d “screwed up again” and double-booked the masseuse at 4pm and stared at me with that “bail me out” look so I said, “no problem…I can come back another time.”
"Great. Thanks." she said. And that was it.
Was it a problem? Yes.
Did I want to come back another time? No.
And I haven’t.
And, as I left that day, my only perception of that business was “disorganized, untrained, and unprofessional.”
Perhaps it was a one-off event, and the likelihood of that business truly being the embodiment of “disorganized” is likely slim, but perception is reality.
Let me say that again:
Perception is Reality.
What does that mean? It means that one person’s perception of your company is their reality, regardless what you think you are.
This also means that the more touchpoints someone has had with your company — in the form of different people they’ve worked with in your company or different locations — the more realistic their reality may be.
Your company is the sum total of your customer’s touchpoints.
This also means that each employee — each team member — IS the company. They may be the only touchpoint a customer ever has with your organization.
What message are they sending?
In 10 years of career coaching, I’ve learned one simple truth that can change your whole world: it’s not your job, or your company, or your boss — it’s you.
You control your happiness.
Now before you close this down disgusted, hear me out.
I talked the other day about job descriptions being static and humans being dynamic and that the greatest thing you can do is to be dynamic in a static job. Let me add to that:
Satisfaction at work comes from congruence and the resulting energy — when you do what you do best you feel energy from doing it and, thus, satisfied. Congruence comes from authenticity — or being more of who you are and less of who you aren’t — and authenticity comes from self-knowledge. And who controls self-knowledge? You.
“But my job doesn’t align with my strengths!” Of course it doesn’t — it wasn’t written for your strengths. It was written for a nameless, faceless, generic individual and you chose the job. It’s now on you to bring yourself to it and make it great.
“But my boss doesn’t get me and micromanages.” Nine times out of 10 your boss doesn’t get you because you don’t even get you. You don’t know you well enough to help them see you in a different way. They micromanage because either 1) they don’t know what you do well and what you don’t and, therefore, how to manage you, 2) they don’t know themselves as a leader and so they lean on industrial-era management or techniques learned from a TV show, or 3) they don’t see you doing your job (which you aren’t doing because you don’t enjoy it because you aren’t bringing your whole self to it) and so they don’t know what else to do. Or all three.
You have the power to change it. And the key is:
1) get clear about who you are and what you do best
2) get clear about the outcomes or expectations in your job, and…
3) figure out how to get those outcomes by doing what you do best.
Number 3 is the tough part, but you can do it. Trust me. It takes some creativity, human ingenuity, reflection, and effort but if you really want to figure out how to do more of what you love in a finite structure you can do it.
Oh, but one word of caution: As with most things that matter, the payoff is gradual over time. You might feel an immediate reward in the form of a boost of energy but “they” might not see it and reward you immediately. See, change is tough. Even good change. So be patient, do what you do, and if it doesn’t improve then get out and try something new.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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