The Power of Values

Yesterday I had to make a stop at a county office….’nuf said.  I was not looking forward to it.  The line was long and windy in a small space, so I had to ask which was the end.  A nice person in line grunted and nodded toward the end.

I watched the four representatives take care of several people, and thought, hmm – maybe I was wrong.  They were pleasant and efficient and the line moved pretty quickly.  As I was waiting, I noticed one of the rep’s name tag said “Work Leader“.  Being in the business of leadership development, I thought that was an interesting title, and wondered exactly what those duties entailed.

As I moved up to “next“, the Work Leader finished and asked how she could help me.  She smiled, was very pleasant and efficiently helped me with my business.  They had “customer comment cards” asking us to rate their level of knowledge and service and I was thinking about giving some positive feedback.

The line was still fairly long when the rep at the next station called the next person in line and the Work Leader looked over at her and said, “No you have to go to lunch now.”  Ouch.  Too many years in the service industries, and the look on the person’s face who had to return to the line told me this probably wasn’t the right thing to have done when there were still so many people in line.

But you know, that is the organizational value that the Work Leader was following – don’t spend money or incur overtime.  She probably did exactly as she was supposed to do.

But how does that align with the value of “customer service“.  The artifacts said that serving the customer was important.  Why else would they have had customer comment cards sitting right at the station with the representative’s name already written in.

And obvious it was important because they had done a very nice job of either selecting or training friendly, efficient folks.  But when push came to shove, the expense “value” trumped the customer service “value“.

What values hold the trump card in your organization?  There is no right or wrong answer.  But it’s really important to know your trump cards.

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