Thursday, 30 January 2014

What's the difference between conscientious and lazy staff?

Not much, it turns out.

Because we can only see what's happening on the outside, it's easy to think that conscientious, careful, customer caring staff always do the right thing, therefore they don't even think about doing things the wrong way.

Lazy staff, on the other hand, don't care about the customer, therefore they don't think about how their actions affect the customer.

Actually, this isn't quite true.

Here's what a lazy retail sales assistant thinks when it's time to unpack boxes and stack shelves:

Going to hunt for the proper safety knife is time consuming, so what's the point? (No pun intended. Though it is quite funny.) Doing things properly encroaches into break time. So the assistant uses a handy pair of scissors, thinking they'll be careful, so there's no problem.

Now, what about our caring, careful assistant? They must be well organised and always have the correct safety knife with them, yes? No. OK then, so they must automatically go and get a safety knife when they're unpacking boxes, yes? No.

In fact, both sales assistants have the first initial thought: "I can't be bothered to look for the safety knife, I'll use these scissors instead".

The difference is in how those initial thoughts play out. The lazy assistant doesn't think any further, and goes straight to work on the box.

The careful assistant, however, imagines, in the blink of an eye, what could go wrong, how that will damage the contents of the box, how that will affect the customer and how, in the long run, they create more work for themselves:

Do you see the important bit? The assistant who demonstrates the best customer care doesn't actually care about the customer at all. Well, they might do, but that's not important. They actually care about their own time. By doing the job properly now, they save themselves the trouble of having to take the damaged boxes back off the shelf, doing the returns paperwork, dealing with customer complaints and having to do it all over again, once their manager finds out, as they inevitably will.

By caring about their own time, the careful assistants do things right, which is better for the customer.

The lazy assistant doesn't care that they have to put the problem that they caused right, because while they're doing all that paperwork, they're not stacking shelves.

Modelling high performers using the Genius at Work method always leads to counter-intuitive findings. That's one of the things that makes it so much fun!

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