Marsha! Marsha! Marsha! Hits the Mark
It's been an interesting week watching a news story evolve over a customer service gaffe turned ugly here in Des Moines. You can read the long version if you wish, but here is the shortened version:
A group of teachers are on lunch-break during an inservice day last Monday. They decided to go to a local establishment downtown, where one of the teachers found a hair in her salad. She pointed it out to her server, who responded sardonically, "Don't blame me. I didn't put it there." The manager was too busy to talk to her. On the way out, she and the owner had a confrontation, which ended with the owner gesturing and screaming at her and her colleagues that he never wanted to see another teacher in his restaurant. She sent an email that night to a few of her friends and colleagues detailing her ordeal. Within 24 hours, the story had spread across Des Moines faster than a corndog virus at the State Fair. The owner apologized, and the Operations Manager released a written statement providing reasons (excuses) why the owner behaved the way he did.
It's been a week since this happened. The Facebook page boycotting Legends continues to grow. People have taken sides. Being married to a teacher, I heard in no uncertain terms about the solidarity of the profession. To offend one teacher is to offend them all. I've also heard the other side, which basically implies the teacher was being whiny and demanding.
However, a few important observations have been lacking in this battle. Both sides have accomplished a lot. Mark Rogers has alienated many in this town against him, but he's also galvanized a few of his supporters. Marsha has galvanized even more supporters, but has also drawn some fire.
But here's what's missing:
- What about the server? If you're going to hire a restaurant server, it seems that customer service 101 should be: "Oh, I'm terribly sorry. Let me get you a new salad right away." I would hope that server (who has conveniently remained nameless) is now jobless and looking for a position which does not require interaction with other living humans. The "middle man" who fired the first shot was allowed to slink into the shadows while two major forces arose in battle. And in office politics conflicts, we see the instigator escape to wreak havoc another day.
- It boils down to communication. Mark Rogers claimed he tried to make Marsha Richards happy, but she wouldn't hear of it. She claimed in her email that she tried to keep him focused on the server's behavior but he just grew more belligerent. To quote Cool Hand Luke, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." When learning the basics of male/female communication (anyone who's been through couples sessions knows this one), you learn that SOMETIMES women do not want problems solved as much as they want to be heard, validated, and affirmed first and foremost. My guess (based on the sides of both parties) is that Mark tried to short-circuit this part of the communication loop and just wanted to solve the problem to make her go away WITHOUT LISTENING to her. And he learned it didn't work very well, got frustrated, and blew a gasket
In our quest to accomplish great things for ourselves and our organizations, sometimes the little details get lost. We forget what the real issue is. And we then go to battle. And both sides are ill-prepared to win, because it becomes more about ego than engagement. And no Facebook boycott page or press release from an operations manager will solve the root cause of what's really wrong.
Personally, I was never a big fan of Legends to begin with, so I doubt the teacher boycott will affect my dining decisions one way or another. But as far as entertainment goes here in Des Moines, it's been a great week.