A client of mine, Sally (not her real name) was recently at
her wits end. She was a middle aged graduate student and in desperate need of a
job. She had been looking for months and with the difficult economy kept
running into dead ends. Needless to say
her normally cheerful, positive attitude was taking a hit and her house was
going into foreclosure. Despite the
desperation that was beginning to set in, she persevered. She kept interviewing
and putting the word out to every contact she had. Her family members were
doing the same on her behalf.
Finally she got a break! A friend of a family member got her
an interview at a local high end restaurant – in fact the best restaurant in
her city. Sally had experience in the food industry, made a good impression and
got the job as hostess. You would think that would be the happy ending of the
story, right – persistence rewarded… but it isn’t.
She came home from her first night of work, sat down and
cried. She said the customer service was horrible and the staff was rude to
each other and to the patrons of the restaurant. Sally felt that the atmosphere
was so negative and toxic she could not possibly continue to work there, it
went against everything she believed in. She called the owner the next day and
resigned. When asked why, she courageously told the truth. The owner asked her
to please to come in and at least have a conversation about it – she agreed.
In the conversation with the owner, Sally had the
opportunity to be specific about what she saw and experienced. She described
the chaos, disrespect and poor customer service. Sally was completely honest
with him about what would need to change for her to work there. As it turns out, the owner knew he had a
problem and didn’t know how to fix it. In Sally he saw an answer to his
problem. He offered Sally a job as guest services manager. She would answer
directly to him and had full authority to make policy changes related to
customer service as well as hire, fire and train staff.
Sally accepted and since taking that position the work
environment at the restaurant has changed dramatically. There has been a
turnover in staff, the owner gets a flood of letters raving about the great customer
service and Sally has gotten two raises in as many months. Sally is ecstatic,
her positive energy permeates the restaurant and she is learning tons about the
business from the owner – a definite plus for the MBA she is working on.
In spite of her truly desperate need for a job, Sally stuck
with her values, courageously told the truth and her integrity was rewarded in
a very big way. An awesome story wouldn’t you say. Sally is someone we can all
learn from. What values would you take a stand on?