The 66-minute manager

We recently experienced a 66 minute and 59 second saga with our mobile / tv / internet provider.  (The "red" one...relatively indistinguishable in product and service from the "blue" one.)

The call centre staff were absolutely fabulous. Friendly. And incredibly helpful. As helpful as they could be in a system where they are quite literally blocked from providing full service.  Where they can consolidate all services but the one you're look to integrate ("oh no, don't let the tv people muck with the wireless accounts!"); where they can't ever provide an actual install time rather than a vague 6-hour window (who has that kind of time?!); and where an international telephone tree prevents, unequivocally, any hope of actually getting transfered correctly to the next relevant department on the first try.

Oh, boo-hoo, you say.  We've all had those 66 minute conversations that end in the long-marvelled "don't-call-us-we'll-call-you-technical-ticket".

True.

But what lessons can we take away about our own organizations, how we set up and treat our teams, how we do or don't empower them? Quite a few probably. For example:

  1. Is your sales guy or gal empowered, truly, to make a deal? (Or does he or she have the equivalent experience of writing a number on the back of a card and going off to talk to his/her "manager" in the back office?)   Don't create systems that demoralize.
  2. How many people in your organization do you call "assistant"?  Sure, they assist, but don't they also coordinate, problem solve and manage (most often, you?) Don't disrespect any level of talent (or give the impression that you do...and don't get us started on the title "Acting".)
  3. Does your marketing team have veto power when an item of true professional expertise is in question? Or do other area or department managers' colour preferences or demographic biases drive the day? This just sucks, don't allow it or you'll be reposting that marketing job over and over.

Oversimplification? Sure.  We have no idea what it's like to run a large multinational. But we can all stand to give a little thought now and again about how NOT to do it.