I had to fill a prescription the other day, and at the same time, drop off a renewal for the same prescription. I went into the pharmacy, walked over to the “Prescription Pick-Up” side of the counter, picked up my order and then handed the pharmacist the renewal from my doctor. She wouldn’t take it. The “Prescription Drop-Off” side of the counter was about eight feet to my left and that is the only place they would take the renewal. So, I paid for my prescription, picked up all the bags I’d put down at my feet, sidled over eight feet, put my bags down again, handed the slip of paper over to another person and left. Really?? Why?? I’m guessing the policy was in place to ensure that people picking up prescriptions could get in and out quickly. Great idea, but I was the only customer in line. There wasn’t even anyone close by looking like they might be heading in our general direction. Policy trumped service.
And then there are our internal policies, the ones we develop to manage all the intricacies related to employing a whole bunch of people with different wants, needs and expectations.
A colleague’s father recently went through a serious illness. His dad was a salesman and a darn good one at that. He always made, and very often exceeded, quota. When he became ill, he was unable to work the last three months of the year, but he’d already made and exceeded his quota before his illness kept him away from the office. As I said .. he’s good. When it came time to hand out annual bonuses, which were in part based on sales performance, he was ineligible. The policy said that in order to receive bonus, an employee had to be actively on the job and had to be employed for the full-twelve months previous. He didn’t get his bonus because he was still in recovery (although scheduled to come back) and he had been on sick leave. Really?? Why?? Policy trumped service.
Policies and procedures are important. If you don’t have them, get that done! Then take a good second look at those policies and procedures and clearly identify the intent behind the policy. Share that intent with your team members and let them know that just like any other rule, sometimes policies and procedures need to be broken. Discuss and ask for examples of when they can break the rules in the interest of great service.
Remember, service should trump policy, not the other way around.
What do you think?