Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Key professional lessons learned from the bicycle shop

There is this real incident that took place sometime back and which i recently recollected.
This one instance is about the time i went to service my bicycle. I landed in the shop and started to look for someone who could talk to me. I noticed one person sitting on the chair behind a table talking to a customer. I moved ahead and stood next to the other guy who he was speaking to. I patiently waited for a while for him to atleast acknowledge my presence when he was talking to other guy. Sensing him not do it, i barged in politely and mentioned to him that i had come for the servicing my bicycle. Without looking at me, this person calls his assistant and rather impatiently asks him to attend to me. The assistant addressed my questions and by this time the guy on chair also got free but kept looking at both of us. I negotiated a price and conditions for Servicing and was about to leave when it occurred to me to ask the assistant for his number so that i could call back before coming. Listening to this, the guy still sitting in chair, remarked with a rather superior and rude voice- "Take my number, he is just a mechanic. You will be talking to me."

Thinking over what happened at the bicycle shop makes me feel like going back to the basics of dealing with humans. Was the guy sitting on chair right in all that he did ? Well, if you ask me as his customer, i wont answer in affirmative. Lets delve a bit deeper-

When i stood by his side for a while, as a customer i subconsciously expected him to atleast acknowledge my presence atleast (if not smile and greet me). Thats where he failed to make a connection and that elusive first impression on the customer.
I do feel in our day-to-day chores of work, at a very basic level we as employees seek this seemingly simple thing called "Respect from others". It is the instances like the one narrated above that gives you a perception whether you are being respected or not. i.e. a mere act of not acknowledging the presence of a colleague or failing to say a simple "hello" routinely has more damaging impact than what we perceive generally. This is something that eventually causes the disconnect between people.

Again going back to the story, the way the guy in chair addressed his colleague rather rudely as a mechanic in front of a customer was rather uncalled for. As a customer, it gave me an impression of an autocrat managing the shop. Just like i as a customer demanded this Shopkeeper's attention and respect, the mechanic too had the similar needs. Apparently in this case, was badly shot down.

Some of the thoughts that got reinforced again for me after this incident-
- No matter what the situation, irrespective of your stress levels, "Treat people with Respect".
- If you work with people, Make efforts to acknowledge their presence, Always.
- Be conscious of the way people around you perceive you. Bad perceptions once created are hard to overcome.
- Autocratic Leadership is needed in certain situations but most of the workplace situations can be handled in a democratic way.
- Delegation is a fine art. Empowering people while making them accountable for the deliverables works wonders in most situations.

What did you learn today ?

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