John Billingsley has been participating here for less than two months, and this is his first Comment of the Day. He explores some of the broader labor, management and cultural issues behind the curtain in my rueful account of inept service at an airport fast food restaurant.
Here is John’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Incident at Big Bowl.”
I believe this is an issue that goes much deeper than it appears on the surface and Son of M and Tom M in their analyses have identified some of the issues at the root of the problem. Son of M said, “I don’t know that people at this level of employment have EVER cared or are ever going to.” There are some who care, and they can be identified when you are served by them, but I agree that most them appear not to. I think this is because our culture overall is not respectful of the people who do those jobs and so they have no reason to respect themselves as a person who performs that work.
I had the opportunity to live in Japan for about two years. That was over 40 years ago, and I still remember the complete professionalism of just about every service worker I encountered. Of course, it is a cultural thing. I wish people who provide services here could develop the attitude that it is not demeaning to be a service worker.
Tom asks, “Why is all of the blame on the employees?”
I agree. The culture of any organization starts at the top. Is the boss showing by his own actions that the job and how it is performed are important? Does the boss respect the employees? Are they provided appropriate training and examples? Are they being held to standards? One of my first jobs was as a dishwasher in a fairly upscale restaurant. The owner was back in the dishwashing area at least one or two times every night, he made a point of having at least some handicapped workers he paid the same and treated the same as everyone else, and he was willing to promote people who appeared to have potential. I was offered assistant manager job in one of his other restaurants. Everyone else was treated equally well. It was a very popular place, great repeat business, and extremely low employee turnover.
Tom says, “When one pays minimum wages, he can expect minimum effort from minimally skilled employees.”
I don’t agree. The employee knows what the wages will be and has agree to work for that. I advised my daughter who started in a food service job that she was paid what she was worth, to make sure she earned it, and that if she wanted to earn more she needed to demonstrate that she was worth more by her performance. If the employer expects minimum effort for the most part he will get it. As I stated above, there are people who do care about performing a good job and take pride in their work and if expected to perform to an appropriate level they will. Some will exceed that and be promoted or qualify for better jobs. Those who don’t meet expectations need to be fired.
I agree with Tom that someone who just flat doesn’t care about customer care cannot be taught it, and if accidentally hired their career in that field should be brief. Most people do not have an inherently bad attitude and can be taught to at least fake it and act appropriately, including taking responsibility and trying to make the customer happy. I don’t need everyone who serves me to be smiling all the time; I find forced bonhomie off putting, but I do need them to be polite, do their job competently and if they make a mistake to do what they can to make it right.
Contrary to what E2 says, I do think I deserve everything to go my way when that is what I am paying for. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t, if there is some genuine attempt to make things right.