Making It Easy…Makes You Look Good
Full Contact Project Management
Can I start by telling you a story? It illustrates how a company can sabotage — instead of develop — its workforce. Ya gotta read this!
I was doing one of the household chores I hate most, which is taking our plastic bottles and aluminum cans to the recycling center. Out here in Southern California, it is strongly “suggested” that you are not allowed to throw them away, but must recycle them. So, that’s what I do.
The last time I did this chore, about a month ago, the man who ran the recycling drop-off location was excellent. He was fast, efficient, had a smile on his face, kept an extremely clean site — and in a job not many people want to do, but he did. I don’t want to get him in any trouble, so I’ll just call him Alexander Hamilton. After I left, I decided to call the parent company. I tried, but their phone number, printed on the receipt, was out of service! Darn.
This month, the service I received from him was equally excellent, so I told him that I had tried to call his company and compliment them on what a great employee they had. He told me that, unfortunately, the number on the front of the receipt was old, but the number on the back was good, and he thanked me for even trying. I promised him I’d try again.
And so I did, about three minutes later. The new number did work, but it took me to voicemail hell. Any of you ever been there? Yikes!
I selected the number for customer service, and was put on hold. I waited about eight minutes on my cell phone, then hung up. I tried the same number again. Same response. Another four minutes were wasted this time.
At this point, I’m just a bit mad, but I’m determined to win. So I hatch an idea: dial the extension for H.R. Surely they could pass on a compliment about Alexander. I got through to the H.R. department, was told that they couldn’t pass on a compliment, but that they could connect me to the direct line for the person who handles those calls. “Okay, let’s give it a shot,” I said. “Thanks!”
The direct number rings, so I’m excited. Then…the recorded voice informs me that the person at that extension is away, there is no further instruction, I hear a beep, and then I’m disconnected.
You’ve got to be kidding! Not one to give in easily, I look up the company online and get the name of the president and CEO, figuring I’d call back and access the employee directory. I did, and this guy wasn’t on it! So I picked somebody else, as a last-ditch attempt, and dialed their extension. The recorded voice on that extension let me know that I had to enter a PIN in order to join the conference call!
As I said previously, I had entered voicemail hell. This brings me to the subject of this month’s column. Obviously, the guy who engineered this system didn’t make it easy and, consequently, he doesn’t appear to be very smart.
But how about you, me, everybody? How many things are we doing for our customers, employees or suppliers that are not very smart? In fact, maybe they think that what your company is doing is not displaying very much wisdom. (I didn’t want to use the word stupid.)
All of this begs the question, have you ever cast a critical eye on your own business, looking for the obvious, and perhaps the not-so-obvious? Isn’t it time to ask why you do some things in a certain way, even when nobody in the organization knows how that ever came to be in the first place? “We’ve always done it that way” is not a very satisfying or wise answer!
You know the crazy thing? Mason contractors are always fighting the battle of the why. When an owner, developer, architect or engineer is considering a structure of some kind, and is about to spec out something non-masonry, aren’t you pitching the idea of using masonry because of its advantages, even though it might appear to cost more initially?
I did a short YouTube video for the Masonry Contractors’ Association of San Diego & Imperial Counties. It’s called, “Top 10 Reasons to Build with Masonry San Diego.” The checklist that makes up the video initially came from a 2006 Masonry Magazine article by Christopher Huckabee. The 10 reasons are the why behind using masonry.
The point here is that we are always striving to show why we have a better way, a different path, a unique point of view, a more efficient approach. You get the picture.
If you like to get feedback from your customers — and you should — then make it easy for them to tell you. Don’t be like the recycling company! As a matter of fact, you should always, always, always be seeking feedback, and especially testimonials from your satisfied customers, material suppliers and service companies.
Why? Because you want more business, which means you want more people to find your business. So, guess what? You make it easy! Something else happens when you make it easy: you get rewarded by Mr. Google for making things so easy. Do a good job and do it often enough, and people will find you on the first page or two of a Google or YouTube search. Out here in California, one of our favorite search terms is: masonry construction San Diego. If you search for that, no matter where you are, you just might find some of the members of that organization.
Of course, you could say, “But we never used to do it that way before.” And you’d be right, because, for one thing, we never had to do it that way. The second thing is that we didn’t know what we were missing!
Let’s go back to the woeful recycling enterprise for a moment. Imagine that you were its CEO and you found yourself needing to cut a few employees for budgeting reasons. No warning, it has to be done this week.
Wouldn’t you wish for the kind of feedback you might have gotten from your customers? Clearly, you would never want to fire Alexander Hamilton, would you? He’s one of your good guys. Keep him. Sack a slacker. Theoretically, that is the way it should go, but too often we make it extra difficult on ourselves, and ultimately on our employees, when we don’t make smart decisions, but just react out of panic.
It’s very hard to develop the workforce you want when you don’t make it as easy as possible to keep the people you need.
About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.