“Tips on encouraging complainers to become part of the solution”

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I wonder how many in leadership cringe on the inside, (during meetings) when employees complain of a breakdown in communication and systems, but fail to offer a solution?

I mention this with empathy for leadership who are “expected” to lead and provide a resolution to all systemic issues.

Having experienced my share of working with disgruntled employees (those who are quick to speak out on injustices), I see the need for ideas or resolutions after the feedback is provided.

I am sure a great deal of employees are waiting for their employer or upper management to offer resolution, after all they are the ones in a leadership position, right?, However a company culture that seeks resolution from the frontline employee is in my eyes, wisdom.

Frontline employees speak directly with customers, and since they are the ones that are more likely to discover a trend that is hurting the organization, they should also receive the opportunity to work on a resolution.

Therefore there should be an ongoing and spoken rule that states “if you speak up in meetings to state a problem, you must in the same breath offer a solution”.

In no way is this designed to punish those who present problems, but it sets the tone for problem solving or resolution without creating an atmosphere that lends itself to constant criticism.

Team Work in the making

irysec.vic.edu-- problem solving

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Management and frontline workers receive the opportunity to work together as a team to bring about resolution as opposed to waiting for leaders who are often stopping other organizational wide problems to provide all of the answers.

This also allows for upper management to remain in tune with the feelings and thoughts of its employees and customers (as they will hear firsthand from frontline workers what the organization is up against, while at the same time learning of frequent consumer complaints).

Application in the making

You may wonder, “What is the most efficient way to endorse this sort of change?”

  1. Speak with the employees in meetings and set the expectation – if a problem is mentioned, it must be closely followed by a solution (from that particular employee).
  2. After the problem at hand is mentioned (with a possible resolution), if indeed that resolution is manageable and cost effective, place the employee on a team that is designed to conquer that problem.
  3. The employee is now expected to collect data to confirm that indeed the problem is a new or reoccurring trend.
  4. Once the employee collects the data, that particular employee will now be expected to relay this information back to the team and management for further plans to rectify the issue.

It may not be the answer to solve all organization wide problems but it’s a damn good way to get the conversation started.

The next step will be for management to trust the expertise of frontline employees to activate resolution.  This has the opportunity to provide more fulfillment for the front-line employee, while retaining satisfied customers.

What tips do you have to offer to bridge the gap between frontline employees and management?

“Hierarchy structured insurance company Aetna, cause organizations, and pharmacies to suffer in their lines of communication” -The Imperfect Org

2017, January 1st to be exact and I called the Walgreen’s pharmacy to check on my husband’s medication.  We had been trying to refill it since a week and a half ago.  After countless communication with my doctor’s office and pharmacy, I discovered that my insurance company, Aetna can no longer refill his medication (nor mine) at Walgreen’s.  We can now only use CVS to refill prescriptions or we must refill them through a mail order.

CVS is not an option, as it is miles away from my home.  Walgreen’s is less than a mile.  How long will we have to wait for the medication if we order through the mail? Will my husband’s health suffer or deteriorate in the meantime? Is it already possibly suffering since it has taken way longer than expected to receive his refill?

The most disturbing piece about this is that the doctor’s office and the pharmacy had no idea what was going on.  I am not faulting them at all.  Whom I fault is Aetna for not adequately updating or notifying the doctors’ offices, nurses, and pharmacist who had actual scripts in their office waiting to be refilled. After about the fifth time I called I finally spoke with a rep and pharmacist who called the insurance company and was notified of the refill changes.  The pharmacist was just as shocked as I was about the ordeal. The pharmacist even tried to get Aetna to approve a few pills for my husband, just to hold him through until we could obtain the new prescription from CVS. Aetna said this could not be allowed.

Yes, it was open enrollment at my place of employment in November, but none of the seminars that I attended from Human Resources department bothered to include in their webinars and seminars that the way in which we obtained our medications could possibly change. Perhaps they did not know. I have checked my insurance companies site and I do not see updates regarding this recent change. Because it is the holiday and Sunday, they are closed and I cannot communicate with them myself. Frustrating.

My husband and I, as well as my place of employment, doctors’ office, and the pharmacies that we choose to obtain our medications through are customers of the insurance company. Communication is very much owed to the pharmacies as it is the doctor’s offices.  Despite how large these insurance companies are, and no matter how far up the corporate ladder or how deep the political affiliations; the people down on the lower frontlines should know how their jobs are being impacted by any updates to policy.  To bother not to communicate with all necessary parties is to leave many, as in our case, perplexed and inconvenienced.

And what’s up with the monopoly on prescriptions?  What sort of partnership or deal has CVS made with Aetna? Is it cheaper for the insurance companies? If so, what about the possible inconvenience to the person that needs the medication.  Some do not have a CVS nearby and not to insult the postal service, but some of us cannot trust our “friendly” mailman or mail woman or our neighbors for that matter.

So, note to you and to my future self, after open enrollment or updates to your insurance please make sure that you are not being limited or directed only to one particular pharmacy.  To not know this, is to potentially risk the health of you or your dear loved one due to poor lines of communication.

Should I or Should I not apply for that line leadership position? Office Rant … -The Imperfect Org

 

Should I or Should I not apply for that line leadership position? Office Rant …

I have had the pleasure of working in an office in which management had to plead and beg for individuals to apply for a line leader position.
I can’t lie, I was usually up for applying for leadership positions, but this was one that somehow lacked the esteem and luster that I usually find with such positions.  Maybe it was not the position, maybe it was me.
If it were at least 8 years ago, I would have jumped at the opportunity.  However these days, having a different perspective on organizations, I simply passed it up.
But I could not help, but answer why management had to plead for people to apply?
There used to be a time where this position would have been viewed as a position of power.  Well, not anymore.  Having seen this organization in practice, I have noticed trends of employees becoming more educated and requiring less stress in their life, so why place oneself into such positions when 99% of the time, you will do most of the work, and this hard work does not pay off nor lead to further promotion up the corporate ladder?
No they don’t always hire a person for a management position because they worked on the team as a leader.  So is it really worth it? Will this position translate as success in my next job opportunity, or is it just one more thing that takes my time and adds unnecessary stress?

The true thoughts of Call Center Employees -The Imperfect Org

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The Imperfect Organization: The true thoughts of Call Center Employee’s — Is this a case of low morale?

The true thoughts of Call Center Employee’s — Is this a case of low morale?

 
There are jacked up people everywhere in life.  You now have a greater platform to be exposed to the likes of “call center employees”.
Check out this link on what some call center people really think about you.  Can you empathize with them? Would you say things could be different if the employee’s morale was in a better place?

American Sales? Elements of Customer service. -The Imperfect Org

 

I walked up to the customer service counter (to return a glowing Halloween decoration that had old rusted batteries and did not work) with my husband.  Once there I quickly observed that the main cashier was in the process of training a new employee on how to complete a return.
The middle-aged trainer seemed intent on communicating all the necessary details on how to accurately process the return.  However, the early adolescent trainee did not seem as enthused.   This is how it unfolded.
Cashier training new cashier.
The new cashier stares at my husband and I more than paying attention to the trainer.
I think… “Great, you’re going to go far”…
This all took place as we settled the return and she continued to stare without a smile, and without uttering a single “thank you”.
More and more I am seeing that this is sadly the norm.  What is going on with the state of our job market and customer service?

Front Street Blast! -The Imperfect Org

“Front Street Blast!” When management’s method of coaching is blasting the employee to everyone to prove a point.

When management decides to send an email blast to teams pointing out someone’s wrong doing, that is a quote on quote “coaching”, they should consider how employees morale is being affected.
I was once a part of a large organization that had several teams spread across three locations.
Because of high turnovers, they were constantly training and retraining employees. One manager that was promoted to an Associate Director position found it necessary to point out the mistakes of staff members.
  • The Associate director placed this information on how the process should be completed;
  • How it was actually completed; and
  • The individual’s accounts and employees names who made the mistakes.
In case you have not guessed it yet, I was one of the employees.
It was an honest mistake that I had caught myself, and my notes reflected this on the account, however, this Associate Director thought it expedited to make an example of me and my mistake.  Therefore I had mixed feelings.
I breathed and made sure not to respond to the email right away.  In fact, I walked away inhaled and exhaled and returned 15 minutes later.
Once I was more in control, I sent an email apologizing for my mistake.  But I had to make it known my mistake was actually caught.  I copied all necessary parties.
  • So was that email from management even necessary?
  • How could this Associate Director have pointed out the mistake without causing me to experience an emotional response?
  • Is it possible blasting employees are partial to do with the high turnover rate?
In my opinion, this “Blast” with employees was not necessary. No one is perfect and there is always a right and wrong way of doing things.  But somehow and somewhere we have forgotten that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated.  It’s a garner of respect.
And unfortunately, since management saw this as an ample way of “coaching” employees, it has also contributed to the high turnover rates.
What should have been done differently? Should I have not responded and kept my comments to myself? Was the Associate Director correct, was the blast necessary to ensure that we along with others do not make the same mistake in the future?

“Do no harm?”-The Imperfect Org

When was the last time you were given a set of instructions or protocol from an authority figure inside the workplace only to find yourself thinking, “Wait, that doesn’t seem fair to our customers!”
When you had this illuminating thought, what did you do about it? Did it scar your conscience? Did you question your manager or simply go with it, because hey, you were obeying orders right?
“Stanley Milgram…conducted an experiment focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience.  He examined justifications for acts of genocide offered by those accused at the World War II, Nuremberg War Criminal trials. Their defense often was based on “obedience” – that they were just following orders from their superiors (McLeod, 2007, para. 2-3).
Miligram, tested his obedience theories by having one participant (the teacher) administer shocks to the other participant (the student) anytime the student could not recall words from a list they were asked to remember. Unbeknownst to the teacher, the student (who was in on the trial), was not receiving shocks.
The teacher was encouraged to continue increasing the voltage in order to shock the student with each word the student could not recall. Despite the teacher feeling this was morally wrong, and despite the fact they were harming an individual (so they thought), they continued to shock the student, simply because they were encouraged to do so by the authority figure (the man in the white coat-the experimenter) who was supposedly recording the results.
(McLeod, 2007).
Results rendered
  • 65% (two-thirds) of participants (i.e. teachers) continued to the highest level of 450 volts. All the participants continued to 300 volts (McLeod, 2007, para. 16).
Why did the teacher, who visibly displayed discomfort with each shock given, and the student, (who cried out in agony, although he was not really being shocked) continue with the experiment?
 “People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. This response to legitimate authority is learned in a variety of situations, for example in the family, school and workplace” (McLeod, 2007, para. 18).
Should organizations take an oath?
“Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients/patients…with whom they work, and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and unavoidable” (APA, 2010, 3.04).
Should organizations take this oath?  To blindly follow a leader to the detriment of a customer is “doing harm”.  It is the perfect recipe for failure as customers slowly learn and pass the word about the company’s quality of service.
Does it matter the sort of organization you are employed with? My answer, is no.
My advice? Rally around your manager or team members to create the sort of organization you can believe in.
The next time you are tempted to follow company policy when you know, it’s ethically or morally wrong, think again. You will have a job one more day, but you have to wonder; “Should my organization take an oath”?
References
APA. (2010, June 1). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
McLeod, S. (2007). The Milgram Experiment. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html