If you have read much of this blog, you know I am an unabashed critic of all things concerning air travel. But today I am not going to specifically whine about the complete incompetence and blatant silliness of airport security, the incredibly dangerous management of our skies, or the sorry anti-customer state of most American airlines. We’ll certainly cover that ad nauseum some other time – most likely when I crawl off a flight that arrives home twelve hours late. I tend to get testy when I am forced to sit on a tarmac for half a day because the airline booked ten flights to arrive at a gate at the same time – stewing in the same air 200 people breath – while angry flight attendants keep me strapped in an uncomfortable filthy seat and stuff salty peanuts down my throat as if they were processing veal.
However, when checking in at the Delta counter at JFK on my last trip I encountered a prime example of a either a Worker making a quick transition into Whiner world – and/or someone missing a prime opportunity to shine. When my wife and I arrived at the Delta counter it was pure pandemonium. There were no signs telling people what to do, and some misguided Delta employee was apparently sending people to the wrong counter. Passengers were confused, milling around, looking for direction. Instead of helping their valued customers, one of the Delta employees behind the counter began rudely screaming at people, “this is first class only, you need to go to another counter if you are not first class”. She started to admonish me when I approached her – until I explained I was in first class and at the right counter. “Why don’t you either post a sign right there so people know what to do, or better yet post someone there to help people. It would be a lot nice than just screaming at people”, I suggested. “Hey, I don’t run this place. I have no power around here. Why don’t you take it up with the manager”, she rudely replied.
Which is actually something I would have done if I wasn’t in a hurry, but since I was running for a flight I suggested she should perhaps take it up with her manager. “Your customers would really appreciate it”, I commented. “You can see the problem. Make some suggestions as to how to fix it.”
“Nobody listens to me around here”, she complained. “I don’t have any power here. They could care less what I say.”
Now, perhaps the JFK Delta first class counter is run by the worst manager in the aviation world, but I doubt it. People that blame their managers for their own poor work performance are deluded Whiners, and they miss the potential opportunity to advance. A company may not give you the tools, or manage the operation in a way that allows you to do the best job possible, but companies don’t force you to be rude to customers or act with personal incompetence. That is your choice. If your workplace is so awful that it turns you into an angry screaming maniac, then perhaps it is either time to find a new job, or take the Warrior’s mentality and try to improve the workplace by taking over. Having a bad manager is frustrating, but it also might signal opportunity for you. After managing people for twenty five years, I can tell you that I appreciate well-thought out solutions to business problems, and I notice employees that take the time and effort to think through how the company might be improved. And when I promote people – those are the first employees I look at.