On a recent post office visit, I walked past a line at the self-service kiosk to get to the full-service line.
I’m not sure how the rest of the country’s post offices operate, but the ladies working our post office are cross-selling and upselling pit-bulls. They speak in a quick staccato and overwhelm you with mailing, insurance, and tracking options.
I felt like Forrest Gump, responding, “Uh… can I just send it…like… you know… regular? Which one is…regular mail?”
After being made to feel kind of cheap for sending something regular mail, I had to fend off stamp, envelope, and packing-tape sales pitches.
On a visit to the post office the following week, I stood 3 deep in line to use the self-service machine, even with an open “full-service” window available.
When customers would rather wait in a self-service line than deal with your personnel… you’ve really created quite the special culture there.
Conversely, the grocery store closest to my home has a new employee. Erik is a cashier in his late teens who looks about 12.
The first time I saw him in action was while I was waiting in another line. I thought he was goofing around by scanning and bagging things so quickly. His pace seemed twice as fast as the other cashiers.
A few days later, I intentionally got into his line. His pace hadn’t slowed. When it was my turn, he quickly began scanning my things.
He was practically a blur as he said, “Hello sir! I hope you’re having a great day today. Did you find everything that you wanted?” Almost before I could get out, “Yeah, thanks,” he had begun bagging.
I then noticed that he didn’t have a bagger helping him, and he was keeping up with other lines that did. And my items were bagged properly, not crushed. As I swiped my card and signed the terminal, Erik thanked me for “Choosing our store” and wished me a great day.
It was… well, kind of inspiring. I walked out smiling and thinking, “Man, that kid ROCKS at that job.”
I reflected later that the ladies in the post office make considerably more than a cashier… yet I’m willing to wait in a line to use self-service instead of interacting with them. But I’ll gladly get in Erik’s line even if it has more folks in it than the others.
Would the attitude and approach you bring to your job motivate folks to avoid or specifically seek interaction with you today?
Some of my favorite dinner table topics when spending time with banker friends and customers are first jobs and worst jobs. Frequently, they are the same. Many times they are not.
And someone almost always jokes, “The one I have now.”
One of the reasons I like those topics is that they usually serve as reminders that things that drive us nuts and/or make us miserable now often make us laugh in time.
Personally, I can assure you that when I was scraping meat scraps off of a grocery store butcher’s floor in my teens, I wasn’t exactly appreciating the inherent humor of the situation.
What makes this topic especially fun to me is that it instantly gives folks a different perspective on the people sitting at their table.
There’s something about a successful banking executive telling stories that sound like an episode of Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” that is classic.
Most of us have a tendency to see successful folks and figure the person we see before us is the person he or she has always been. It’s easy to extrapolate that his or her success must have been in the cards. But that’s not usually the entire story.
More often than not, it’s the terrible jobs and bad bosses and even career disappointments that have helped shape many of the successful folks you encounter.
And more often than most would expect, the defining opportunity many successful folks took advantage of happened well into their work lives.
Sometimes it required changing employers or even fields. Just as often, it happens within the same organization.
But the “career making” move was not premeditated. It wasn’t part of a grand plan. Opportunity meets preparation and willingness.
I enjoy sharing those thoughts with folks on both ends of the “company ladder”. For folks feeling like they are heading down a dead end, it helps to remember that you won’t always see that great opportunity coming a mile away.
It often presents itself suddenly. But it isn’t looking for you. You find it by keeping your head up and handling the job in front of you as best you can.
For folks higher up on the ladder, I like to remind them that their future stars and top producers are quite likely in jobs right now that too few are paying attention to, in and out of our organizations.
And maybe we should.
That person with a “bad job”- but great attitude – is the kind of person we can't have enough of.