The New York TImes publishes a column, The Workologist, nearly every week. Yesterday’s Workologist colum refers to controlling “chaos” in a firm. Read the article here.
The questioner is a “customer service specialist,” which seems to be a form of receptionist. When people visit her company, she’s their first contact. (We’re not told if the writer is male or female so I’m guessing to avoid the awkward s/he.)
Most readers of this blog will be higher level managers, executives and professionals. But the story lets me demonstrate a point: you need to be your own problem-solver.
In this column, the questioner writes that she has trouble doing her job and giving the company a good image because …
“For example, I am often not informed of expected guests, including V.I.P.s. I have to ask for a driver’s license, add their names to our visitor log and ask whom they are visiting. I’m sure they do not appreciate this cumbersome procedure, which could be minimized if I’d had advance warning.
Similar snags occur when caterers come and I don’t know who ordered the food and where it goes, or when two groups want to use a conference room at the same time.”
So far, the writer says, she’s gone to her boss, who encouraged her to look at the calendar.
The problem is, nobody updates the calendar. She tried to catch the attention of her boss’s boss, who was (or, more likely, claimed to be) on the way to a meeting.
The Workologist suggests the writer do a better job of communicating the problem and suggest a solution. Emphasize the benefit to the company. Suggest a memo from “on high.”
It’s good generic advice to present your boss with a solution and with the company’s welfare in mind. But there’s an even stronger option.
When you’ve got a problem, ask yourself, “Does anybody care? Who’s affected?” Then go to that person directly.
In this case, I suspect the VIP visitors don’t mind a brief, courteous exchange as they get added to a visitor log. They may even expect this type of interacion.
If they don’t seem annoyed, why spend time on it? If they do, you can politely call the executive they’re visiting, after the fact. Even better, if the executive has an assistant, work with him instead.
“When the investment banking rep came, he seemed annoyed that we weren’t expecting him. If you’ll give me a heads-up, or put it on the calendar, I can roll out the red carpet next time.”
And then stop. It’s not your problem anymore, unless you’re being blamed for making them go through this process. If you are being blamed, and nobody will fix the problem, you’ve got a bigger problem and you may need a new job.
The people who order food might be even more receptive, as they’re the ones eating cold pizza. After they’ve had a chance to eat, you could suggest to them – non-threatening, just informationally -- “If you let me know it’s coming, I’ll give you a shout as soon as they walk in the door!”
You might have to repeat the advice once or twice, but after that, forget it. You’ve done what you can.
When you fail to provide a solution, or provide a solution that requires action from your boss (like “write a memo”) you’re turning to someone else. Unfortunately, the image of a kid turning to a parent comes to mind, subconsciously, and you lose credibility.
Once you take charge, you become empowered.
I belong to a coworking space, IndyHall, which embraces the value of “Just Do It.” (Actually they add another word not suitable for a G-rated blog.)
A couple years ago, I was working away when a young lady began carrying on a phone conversation in a very loud voice. A few people murmured comments via the internal chat line. The front desk “point man” (we don’t have a manager – just a point man and a den mother) refused to get involved.
So (being the most noise-sensitive) I finally got up the nerve to say, “Excuse me, the phone conversation is distracting. The conference rooms are empty if you’d like to go there.”
The young lady just said, “Oh, sorry,” and moved. She wasn’t offended. She never, ever talked on the phone again while at her desk.
So I’d say to the letter writer, “Take matters into your own hands. If people get offended or criticize you for being uppity, and you know you’re being polite and humble, you might want to question your company’s culture.”
And start spending your time on more important things, such as what’s your next career move and how can you make it happen.
We won't just do social media strategies. Social Hire will work collaboratively with your team to ensure your business gets genuine value from us and that your team gets the most out of the service. Our experienced social media managers are motivated to make a enhancements to your social media marketing and reaching targets in a way that realistically makes a difference to your business goals.
Is it important to you to increase the digital footprint of your business by utilising online promotion, but can't work out how to begin?With the professional understanding of our digital experts working in your business, you can begin to see interaction, brand loyalty and enquiries get better without having to take your team out to spend time on ineffective marketing strategies, or spend money on a internal marketing manager with a view to get results that may not deliver!
The social media marketers in our company are the best in the business at helping our partners enhance their online marketing. We outline and implement cutting-edge social media marketing plans that help our customers realise their organisational objectives and further their social media presence. Our experienced team of digital experts do your social media strategy creation and management in an uncomplicated monthly plan that is cost-effective and is genuinely useful, whatever results you demand from your marketing team.
Our team are a company that assists our customers further their digital footprint by giving digital marketing on a regular basis.
You might like these blog posts Social Bookmarking: The Best Sites and How to Use them, The Very Real Dangers of AI and How HR Tech Vendors Can Fight Them, 10 Ways to Make Your Lead Generation Website Convert on the First Visit, and How to Leverage Visuals When Selling on Instagram + Tools to Use.