A Five Minute Read
After two day’s hiking up and down a snowy mountain on a hot, sunny day, all we could think about was checking into our motel room, taking showers, and housing a pizza or two at the bar.
But first we had to get past the “desk clerk”, simultaneously working the ice cream counter. (The jury is still out if Man-Buns are the cause of mental vacancy, or an effect of it… Regardless, the effect on others is the same.)
“OK, I think you’re going to be in Room 24…” he said, showing no evidence of thought.
“Is that upstairs or downstairs?” we asked.
“Um….. yeah…. I’m not really sure… If you go out the door and to the right and then to the left you’ll see the sign?”
“How late is the bar open for dinner?” We wanted that pizza.
“Oh, yeah.” (To the woman in back) “Do you know how late they stay open at the bar? No? OK, yeah. We want to say it’s like 8:30.”
You want to say that? And, you know, is it 8:30? Or just “like” 8:30? My wife could read my look as we walked away.
“Be nice!” she said. “Maybe it’s his first day!”
Maybe it was his first day. If it was, then he is not the only Man of Excuses in the story. Shame on whoever runs that joint, that they didn’t train him for things like… Where the rooms are. And When food is available.
And even if it was his first day, shame on him. He offered no apology for lacking basic information (which he must have been asked at least once already), nor did he demonstrate even the least bit of embarrassment at failing at the very essence of his job. Nor did he seem to indicate a desire to actually score the correct information.
This bizarre behavior appears frequently:
- At a “family restaurant”, when a neighboring booth asked what was on a sandwich, the waiter replied, “Yeah, I never remember what exactly they put on the sandwiches.” Ignoring the fact that it should be “we” and not “they”, a lack of memory should not be an Excuse for an inability to complete one of the main objectives of your job: Answer questions about the menu.
- My apartment building had a shared resource with an “Out of Service” sign on it, so we asked at the Information Desk when it will be operating again. “You can enter a maintenance request through our web portal.” I presume Maintenance already knows it’s out – they put the sign up. When will it be back up? “I don’t know, no one from management is here on Sundays.”
- A tourist interrupted a guide who was watching YouTube on his phone, to ask how late a nearby museum was open. “I don’t know,” he said. His friend said, “I think you can Google it.” You think?
What does all of this have to do with anything?
If you guessed, “It’s all about being a Man of Action,” you guessed correctly!.
Getting It Done
A popular myth is that a “Man of Action” is someone who does a lot of things. Actually, a Man of Action is someone who gets things done.
(On the gender neutrality of ‘Man of Action’.)
At its core, it is about being of service to others. And not accepting less.
A Man of Action doesn’t have to know everything. But a Man of Action should know how to find answers. (Although, if it’s a Man of Action’s job to know things, well….)
- “Let me call over to the bar and find out how late they’re open for you”
- “I will be right back – I’m going to ask in the kitchen what they put on sandwiches. And you know what? I’m going to write it down so the next person that asks me gets an answer.”
- “To: Maintenance. CC: Management. RE: NETMA
Nobody ever tells me anything! When you shut something down, please let us up front know…”
If a Man of Action is in a position of having to turn elsewhere for answers, (s)he should be able to say, “I don’t know. But here is what I am doing for you.”
A Man of Action doesn’t let those around him wander in a fog.
A Man of Action is not selfish. (Self-ish.)
Yes, being of service to others means a Man of Action may have to go out of his way now and again, but only momentarily. “Action” defies the laws of physics, in that it is hyper-efficient: Jumping into Action provides a greater benefit than the effort required.
Be a Better Customer
Amazingly, they ordered the sandwich, anyway.
Customers need to stop putting up with Excuses. We wonder why it’s so hard to “hold people accountable” in our PMOs, field offices, etc. Perhaps it’s because we don’t hold people accountable anywhere else in society?
- Would you please call over to the bar and find out? And then write it down, so you’ll remember next time?
- Would you please find out what’s in the sandwich?
- Please find out when it will be back in service. You have my contact info – just drop me a line. ‘Kay thanks.
Given how easy it is to be a Man of Action, why are we so few and far between? That’s a great question. Maybe it stems from the app-ification of America, or the mollycoddling of the OverAchieving Generation.
Knowing what is happening around us, and sharing that with customers, is not a burden. It’s the job. Asking others to do their jobs is not “being demanding”; it’s expecting minimum viability.
Man vs. Man (of Excuses)
What can you do to combat this? Also a great question. But one that has answers:
When you see someone who’s lost, give him directions; when you see someone’s hands are full, hold the door; check your mirrors; when you drop something, pick it up. If you see someone drop something, help pick it up. Connect the call, don’t perfunctorily give out the number. Follow up (even if “follow up” consists of a simple acknowledgement.) Say “Thank You”.
You don’t have to go the extra mile to be a Man of Action – just take one step in the right direction.
Yes, I am a big fan of Let Me Google That For You, more than a Man of Action should be. But I only invoke it as a specific – and earned – consequence, usually to shame a Man of Excuses that should know better.