Introducing Harried Harriet

Last week, I introduced you to Horrible Harry. His less than stellar management skills have led to low morale, high turnover and negative customer service comments in his department. (If you didn’t get a chance to meet him, click here.)

As easy as it would be to put all responsibility for the rather dismal state of his department on Horrible Harry, the reality is he reports to Harried Harriet. Where is Harried Harriet?  Does she not know what is happening? If she is aware, why is nothing being done?

As it turns out, Harried Harriet is fully aware of the challenges and issues in Horrible Harry’s department.  She has personally witnessed his bad behaviour. She reads the negative customer comments, but she is just too busy to deal with Horrible Harry right now.  Harried Harriet is frantically trying to find ways to cut costs and get new customers in the door because revenue and profit margins are not where they need to be.   She simply does not have time to take Horrible Harry aside and speak to him about the damage he is doing to his department and the business overall.  She simply does not have time to coach Horrible Harry on how to be a better manager.

I know … you saw it too, didn’t you?  If Harried Harriet focused on the root cause of low morale and high turnover, chances are customer service and customer retention rates would improve.  That would mean less time and effort would be needed to bring new customers in the door to try and replace all the unhappy ones that left, never to return again.  That might also mean services wouldn’t have to be cut because the demand for them would increase.

So where are we now?  You’ve met Horrible Harry, who reports to Harried Harriet.  But wait.  We’re not done.  Next week, I’ll introduce you to Waffling Walter, Harried Harriet’s boss.

P.S. To all the Happy, Helpful Harry’s and Harriet’s out there, thank you for all the good work you do!

Meet Horrible Harry

Horrible Harry is a mid-level manager. Horrible Harry has been in the business for years and thinks he’s all that … and more.

Horrible Harry likes to do things like berate employees in public.  On a positive note, he does realize the inappropriateness of dropping the f-bomb during public shamings.  He saves those for private shamings. Actually, Horrible Harry drops the f-bomb liberally throughout a large percentage of any verbal communication.

Horrible Harry doesn’t believe in coaching.  Instead he keeps notes of all errors made (the list is only in his head, not on paper). Horrible Harry doesn’t ask why errors are made.  After all, there really is only one reason, right? The employee is stupid, uncaring and not motivated.  It would never cross his mind that perhaps the training wasn’t adequate or that expectations were unclear or inconsistent.

Horrible Harry doesn’t like his employees, but then again, he doesn’t really like his customers either.  Words and phrases like demanding, rude and ungrateful pop up regularly when he references his customers.  He thinks they ask stupid questions and doesn’t understand why they would be upset when a service promoted on the website isn’t available when they arrive.  After all, if they could offer it they would, but they can’t, so stop the whining.

Rather unsurprisingly, turn-over is high and morale is low in Horrible Harry’s department.  Customer comments are negative and when an employee does receive a positive mention, they never hear about it. Guess which ones they do hear about??

Sadly, dear readers, Horrible Harry is real.  Horrible managers, horrible supervisors exist, in all industries. They do things like send employees to customer service seminars in order to “whip them into shape” and then say things like “well, that was a waste of time and money” when customer comments don’t improve.

The mirror they look into every day is clouded. They don’t see that their lousy service and their poor attitude is the problem.  But of course, they are not the only problem.  They report to someone else, who allows that behavior to continue.  We’ll meet Harried Harriet another time.

P.S. To all the Happy, Helpful Harry’s out there, thank you for all the good work you do!