In a recent post, I talked about how you can maintain your professionalism and stand in a place of your greatness even when things go very wrong and you’re incredibly stressed. In that post was some key lessons and suggestions about how you can reduce your stress level and demonstrate our greatness even when the situation is crumbling around you.
One thing I have learned is that if you stand in your greatness, other folks are able to grow and learn from it. You can show there’s another way of behaving even when things aren’t ideal. It’s not easy, but it’s important.
The alternative that I see if people getting into complaint mode. Folks lose hope and fixate on the negativity. Worse yet is the toxicity seeps into the environment, like a negativity smog descending.
The example I shared in the last post were service professionals who sadly, are often treated as invisible objects. They can be made to feel dispensable. They often are undervalued, not appreciated and feel overworked. I wasn’t about to do that to reinforce this, even in the midst of a stressful circumstance.
One of the biggest reasons they feel invisible, dispensable and undervalued? They’re not given feedback – positive or constructive. They usually only hear – often in harsh tones – when they’ve “messed up”. And usually, it’s in generalities about situations they’re not even responsible for.
The benefits of giving feedback in a respectful way to serve folks – in addition to showing you appreciate them – is they’ll work harder on service recovery with customers. When treated professionally, they are more likely to act like professionals. It makes so much sense it seems redundant, but have you seen someone in frontline service dressed down, devalued and disrespected? Happens all the time. Instead, here are three tips on how to handle a bad situation with professionalism, allowing others to save face and leaves everyone better off!
1.Speak directly with staff
This is twofold: from the customer and from the manager. We talk a lot about giving feedback as leaders, but let’s focus in on giving feedback as customers. How many of us give it directly? Or instead, do we wait to write on the comment card, give an unfavourable Yelp rating or tell the manager? Or worse, not give feedback at all and instead, “Well, we’re never going to go there again.” After all, “It’s not my problem” right? The flawed logic is that there isn’t an opportunity to learn, to improve right away and to do service recovery so you can walk away at least a little more satisfied.
No one wants to do a bad job. Give them an opportunity to delight you in the moment and course correct.
2. If speaking directly doesn’t work, talk to a supervisor
For this organization I told you about in my last post, the root issue was many brand new staff without the proper training. I learned this from speaking with them and them saying, “I don’t know what to do in these situations.” In other words, I had some feedback for leadership about an apparent onboarding gap. It looked like it was an issue with the service, but the root issue was the lack of training.
Knowing this, however, didn’t solve my issue. I needed the supervisor’s help because the staff was making excuses. She went and spoke with them right away, and recovered the materials that were apparently impossible to find. By the manager having to roll up her sleeves (literally…to root through the garbage for my lost materials with staff) she understood the importance of addressing the gap!
3. Show appreciation
Despite being frustrated, I used a technique we learn in therapy school called, “repair attempts.” It’s when you’re having a fight or when tensions are rising, you say something to soften the tension. “I see you’re all incredibly efficient and hard working.” It was true. It was just a strength overused in this case that in haste, the information I needed got discarded. But it didn’t minimize the fact this team has greatness, and each individual needed to feel valued as well as take responsibility for addressing the current issue.
The supervisor really stepped up, so of course, I shared my appreciation to her, and in return, she gave me her card and said, “If there’s anything else you need please contact me directly.” I suspect if I were yelling and unprofessional she’d be hesitant to do that!
Do you have any other advice about how to handle a difficult work situation professionally and respectfully? Comment below!