Which would you rather have; total compliance or selective disobedience?
Seriously. If you are a leader, take a second and be honest with yourself.
What do you think is in the best interest of your customer and employee experiences?
Or selective disobedience?
I’m not talking about breaking any moral codes or doing anything unethical. I’m talking about not following a policy (I think policies create more bad experiences than anything) a procedure, or a practice.
Leaders most often say they want their employees to be fully engaged and act like owners, but as soon as the employee does something as preposterous as using their own judgment, the leader swoops in and intervenes.
This question reminds me of a short video I saw on an American Airlines flight many years ago about the Seeing Eye Academy in Morristown, NJ. This story was used and made legendary in customer service trainings for many years after the story ran.
The Seeing Eye Academy is a place where they train guide dogs to help the visually impaired. The fascinating part of this American Airlines video was when the interviewer asked the dog trainer what type of characteristics they looked for in guide dogs.
His answer was completely fascinating and totally appropriate to the arena of customer engagement and employee engagement.
The trainer said, “There are two types of dogs that don’t make it here. The dogs that are totally obedient and the dogs that are totally disobedient.”
The trainer elaborated, “The characteristics we look for in a guide dog are selective disobedience.”
I still remember spilling my red wine and spitting my food into the passenger’s hair in front of me!
What a blinding flash of the obvious!
When the interviewer asked for an explanation, the dog trainer simply said, “the first two types of dogs will get the master killed. The one who is totally disobedient is very obvious. It’s the one who is totally obedient that is interesting. Could you imagine the totally obedient dog standing on the corner while the traffic light is red, and his master says Go!, and the dog looks down the street, sees an 18-wheeler coming down the road and the dog thinks to himself; this is really going to be a bummer.”
What they look for is a dog that does what ever the master says unless it doesn’t make sense.
How many times as organizations do we make our employees go through policies, procedures or practices that don’t allow them to use their judgment, even when the policy or procedure doesn’t make sense?
Answer: Too Many!
Does your organization spend countless hours of energy recruiting, screening, hiring, training and developing the best and brightest candidates available?
Answer: Yes. Of course you do!
One last question, once the employees are there, don’t you think you can treat them at least as good as the seeing eye dog?
Answer: Of course you can.
P.S. If you are honest with yourself, I bet you are either doing it too little or certainly not enough!