Oh her? She’s new: A lesson in attitude and performance
Part of any management, leadership and employee motivation speech, is the common theme that people’s performance is influenced by their attitude. People’s performance is 80 percent their attitude and 20 percent their ability. When referring to attitude, it doesn’t mean how happy they are. What is referenced is their attitude towards their job.
Charlie travels extensively for his job. He travels so often that he is constantly observing the customer service he receives on an airplane. The other day, Charlie encountered a somewhat overbearing flight attendant while in first class. The flight attendant, Sweet Dee, was being very pushy and telling people what to do.
Sweet Dee ordered people around in a demanding, unnecessarily authoritative tone. “Close that laptop.” “Put that up there.” “Put that seatbelt on.” “That can’t go there.” “That has to be turned off.” After observing this for some time, Charlie couldn’t resist speaking up to Sweet Dee about her customer service skills. Charlie said, “You know, I think your customer service skills could really use some improvement.” Of course, the other passengers were all nervous looking around at each other thinking, “Ooooooo…. he’s gonna get it.”
“Well sir,” she said snidely, “I’m here mainly for your safety.”
That’s all Charlie needed to know. That statement alone answered Charlie’s question on how someone in the customer service business could be so lacking in skills. The answer is she’s not lacking. Her ability is just fine.
Flying as much as Charlie does he knows that pilots always say “The flight attendants are here mainly for your safety, but if there is something they can do to make you feel more comfortable, please feel free to ask….” Well, Sweet Dee actually believes this!
So, what is driving her performance? She knows how to be polite if she wants to be. She knows she’s a representative of the airline. She probably has to deal with huffy customers every day. So what’s driving her poor customer service performance? This poor woman thinks she’s in the safety business and not the customer service business. She believes her job is safety. She even said it, “I’m here mainly for your safety.” What’s driving her poor performance? Her attitude!
And her attitude is: I’m not here for your pleasure. I’m not here for your comfort. I’m not even here to ever make sure you come back again. I’m here for your safety. And because of that, she can be mean. She can be nasty. She can be bossy. Why? Because she’s not in the customer service business, she’s in the safety business. And because of her attitude, she is perfectly okay with pushing customers around.