Dan Naden

A lesson in demotivating your employees

Don’t you hate it when you are not free?

Don’t you hate it when you are not in control?

Don’t you hate it when you are second-guessed in front of others?

A few days ago, I was conducting some business at a local merchant when I witnessed an exchange between manager and employee that was embarrassing to both and hurt the establishment’s ‘brand’ in my eyes.

After sauntering up to the checkout counter, I asked the employee if there was a senior discount. I figured my Dad, who is a few years north of 65, could use a little less strain on the pocketbook.

Let’s listen. After exchanging some pleasantries, the bottom fell out.

Me: Yes, do you have a senior’s discount? I am paying for both my Dad and me.
: Hold on. Let me check in the system. It is always good to ask, right?
Me: Yes, you bet. Every dollar counts.
Manager: (in his office, but (obviously) within earshot): No, there’s no discount. It is all the same rate.
Employee: (in a quiet voice) I hate it when he does that. He ALWAYS does that. You think he isn’t listening, but he listens to everything. It is VERY frustrating.
Me: Nervous giggle.

OK. I know the manager was just trying to help. Perhaps this ‘employee’ was new to the business.

Here are a few ways that this could have been handled differently:
1.    The manager empowers his employees to engage with customers and make these important decisions. The manager should close his door or (better yet) step away from the daily transactions and let his team do their job.
2.    Despite the employee’s obvious frustration with ‘micro-management’, he could have thanked his boss for the assistance and then taken up his angst in an one-on-one meeting. A customer should never see this manager/employee act played out on stage.

I’ve been happily frequenting this local establishment for years, so I doubt I’ll refrain from future visits. I will, however, be more cognizant about the chain of command and the lack of a team feel amongst the staff.

Until next time,
Dan Naden

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