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A rose by any other name…

September 19, 2007

Apologies to Shakespeare, circa 1594….

I find my brother and I now have more to discuss professionally than we ever have.   He is working in the automotive industry, while I am not.  However, we both find ourselves in the circumstances of trying to balance the business objectives and policies of our employers with the various interests of our respective customers.  

When I last blogged about one of our comparative conversations, I pointed out some of the marking and promotions  of his then current employer,  and the resultant adverse impacts to customer satisfaction and the bottom line.  Since that time,  a new opportunity has arisen for him, and he has accepted a management role for another firm and has just opened his first store.   His first couple weeks of the job have been challenging, and he’s having to make some tough decisions about staff.   Everyone can make mistakes, and that is an opportunity for coaching.  A manager has to weigh the ongoing adverse risk an employee represents, against that employee’s rate of improvement, learning and potential.   At some point, a call has to be made that it will be better for the business to replace an employee that is generating more liabilities than income with no end in sight.   It is a difficult call to make for those that are empathetic.

He’s also learning some valueable lessons in customer relations.   A customer vehicle came in with a problem, the shop attempted to solve it, and immediately incurred the responsibility and liability for the situation.   There were some collateral damages as a result of the repair attempts.  Of course, he provided full disclosure to the customer and after several subsequent complications, he has taken over the repair himself to ensure the outcome, and is absorbing the costs.   In his second week, I’m hearing he’s involved in some other work as well, to get it back on track.  I imagine it is a difficult challenge to look after the overall objective of getting the repair properly completed, the money in the register, and the customer on their way,  while sticking to your position as manager, coaching and directing, rather then just jumping in and doing it yourself.    Taking over resolves that particular situation, but does nothing to build experience and capability in the team to handle the next one.  

No matter the line of work, where humans are involved, many of the same circumstances arise.  A rose is still a rose, by any other name.   It’s this point of commonality, that will allow my brother and I to share professional experiences, not simply the telling of tales, but in terms of what we learned about people and about ourselves.   Those discussions, I look forward to.

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