When there is a pattern of obnoxiousness in a business, the fault usually lies largely with management. It is management's responsibility to hire the right people, set the right climate, and get rid of those who don't measure up.

There are many employees who will do their best whatever the circumstances, and others who will do a lousy job in pretty much any situation. But there are also a large number whose behavior and attitudes are strongly influenced by the leadership--or lack of same--that they get.

I believe it was Hal Rosenbluth (founder & CEO of Rosenbluth Travel) who observed that the attitudes displayed by employees to customers often reflect the way that they themselves are treated by management.

Specifically in retail, there are far too many store managers who busy themselves with paperwork and don't spend enought time out on the floor helping and observing. There seem to be real industry patterns in this. Grocery stores, for example, seem to generally have hands-on management and pretty good customer service. Chain book stores are generally pretty bad, as are drug stores.

Posted by david foster at June 25, 2007 11:40 AM

Bad management or not, it is self-destructive to carry & display a bad attitude in even the most menial of jobs. For instance, a young woman takes a generic counter job at a generic fast food joint. She does that job cheerfully and efficiently for about two weeks, and then she's not there anymore. Fired? No; a customer was a manager who happened to have a substantially nicer job opening at his establishment, and was favorably impressed and .... well, she was gone.
Every day in a customer service job is potentially a job interview for a better job. Not to mention, your whole day goes better if you at least pretend to be enjoying it - your 'act' bounces off your customers back onto you, and isn't an act anymore, and it WILL infect you.

Posted by Glenmore at June 25, 2007 01:40 PM

Glenmore...I completely agree with you about the indidual responsibility of the employee. But where there are whole packs of people with bad attitudes at a place, something is wrong at a higher level.

One factor that I think is involved in attitude problems is the insane focus on "self-esteem" on the part of schools and many parents. The constant inculcation of the message "you are wonderful" seems to often lead to the conclusion "nobody else matters." Another (related) problem is the emphasis on credentials and "skills" to the exclusion of metaskills and attitudes. The case you mention is an excellent example of the importance of attitude.

Posted by david foster at June 25, 2007 02:02 PM

David, I couldn't have said it better.

Unfortunately, my manager is a douche. In a recent promotion of mine, I was lifting heavy items with some of the people in my department, and my manager pulled me aside. He said, "Forget all this 'lead by example' crap. Why should the home run hitter be doing the bat boy's job?"

He went on to tell me that I should be standing around making project lists for others - not actually participating in the projects myself.

Anyway, long story short: bad employees are ultimately the result of a bad manager. My guess, Sarah, is that Michaels doesn't have very strong managers.

Posted by Erin at June 26, 2007 10:07 AM might be interested in this story.

Posted by david foster at June 26, 2007 10:55 AM

Thank you, David. Loved it.

Posted by Erin at June 26, 2007 05:31 PM