Integrity Matters
January 31, 2007

Poisoned organizations do a little, want a lot

Question: (E-274)

Dear Jim:

Based on professional surveys, my current employer's reputation for retaining customers is the weakest in our market. Customers will rent from us, once, but our service is so poor that they seldom come back. Should I stay and try to make improvements, or look elsewhere?


Before I offer recommendations, please answer these three questions:

  • Does your manager listen attentively when you describe service problems? If yes, then stay a little longer. If no, start looking around for another job.
  • After your boss hears the issues, are you pleased with the actions taken? If yes, you still have a good place to work. If no, then management is more concerned with looking responsive than being responsive, which translates to a dead end for those who stay.
  • If you are seeing some positive actions to address customer issues, are you confident that the "service culture" is being driven by management, top to bottom, even when some employees are falling short of standards? If yes, then hang in there because the changes for the better are just around the corner. If no, then mediocrity will remain and you will be tainted by the culture you support by staying too long.

Poisoned organizations adopt a philosophy of doing as little as possible in order to keep a customer or make a profit. Fraudulent organizations are proud of their behaviors, knowing that they are riding the edge, barely staying legal. Poisoned organizations routinely sanction - if not in writing, then certainly with the knowing-wink of senior leadership - that it is OK to:

  • Water down drinks and downgrade brands, without notifying patrons.
  • Supply inferior quality items, selling them as premium to unsuspecting customers.
  • Pad expense accounts and pass along the "jacked up" numbers to naïve clients - with the implication that such gouging is really a justifiable entitlement, since the client is already making big profits.

When those at the top are willing to break their covenants with customers and suppliers, it is likely that employees will suffer the same abuse.

There really are only two kinds of people and two kinds of organizations: givers and takers. Giving individuals and organizations seek to go the extra mile. They reach out and serve. Takers minimize everything that relates to others. They are selfish and viciously self-absorbed.

Building longer-term relationships with those with integrity is certainly healthier, probably even more profitable!

Givers exude integrity. Saying goodbye to takers is the first step toward freedom and fulfillment, personally and professionally. So, yes, look for ways to move on, sooner rather than later.

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