Customer Experience Poor At M&S

Poor customer experience at M&S


This article is all about customer experience. My customer experience to be exact. My poor customer experience at Marks & Spenser to be even more exact.

Marks and Spenser have dropped the ball in spectacular fashion. Because of a poor customer experience, they have successfully converted two loyal customers into two non-customers. All due to a lack of corporate emotional intelligence and poor local leadership.

There is a clear point I wish to make which relates strongly to mindset and emotional intelligence but there needs to be a little context first.

Picture this

This very morning, my good lady wife and I had the dubious pleasure of visiting a large local M&S store. Doing this only 3 days before Xmas might well be considered madness. We were expecting a reasonably pleasant experience however because, as my wife had pre-ordered and paid a deposit for all the required items back in early-October, it should have been a simple matter to collect, pay and return home. We had booked the earliest slot as well but, even then, a small amount of queuing was to be expected as the service appears to be much in demand.

Did all this happen as planned? Of course not. We were finally directed to the rear of the store and into a confusing queue snake system. We had our identity checked against the order which is a good thing then placed in another queue to collect our groceries. This is where it all ground to a halt.

When we finally got to the grocery area, rather than find a complete box with our name, unique order number and groceries waiting for us, it turned out to be six or seven harassed staff valiantly trying their best to build our order from a pile of assorted groceries stacked in a chilled box behind them. The items did have some numerical ID codes but were not even stacked in numerical order. The staff had to disappear to the main stores to find missing items.

The customer experience system collapses

It was a chaotic and broken system by 1000 hrs and the queue behind us had spilled out of the queue snake and onto the main shop floor. Riots may yet ensue. The staff were left to face the shoppers because managers were conspicuous by their absence and the one who was there refused to make eye contact with anyone. Whoever designed this system needs a reality check.

Contrast this with Tesco. We were anticipating a home delivery at 1100 hrs this morning. Given the build up of traffic we expected to see it arrive much later than the midday upper limit. Not a problem on a day like this. Imagine how pleased we were when, as we pulled into the drive following out M&S debacle, the Tesco delivery pulled up on the drive at 1030 hrs and politely asked if we minded him arriving early.

The key point I want to make here is one of corporate and staff mindset.

Whilst we waited at M&S I was discussing the process and effects on the staff and customers with the friendly and helpful assistant. I asked her why they could not plan and implement a simple and effective customer experience system like the one Tesco and many others now provide.

This was the answer which shocked me, and it highlights why Tesco are winning and M&S are not:

“We can’t do a system like that – it wouldn’t work here – we’re a different kind of store.”

This is a completely limiting belief on the part of the assistant. Furthermore, this belief is almost certainly echoed, supported and probably driven by the many layers of management above her.

Can they fix it their customer experience?

Anyone and any organisation can do almost anything they want if they commit to it. M&S cannot change the weather, but they can certainly change and redesign a faulty chaotic system then implement it correctly. If this is indeed a systemic mindset throughout M&S, then they have a serious and chronic problem.

What they really mean here with the statement “we can’t do it” is they “don’t want to do it.” A corporate “can’t/won’t do” mindset in this instance leading to a chaotic and head in the sand operation. This demonstrated little regard for their customer experience or indeed that of their front-line staff. M&S profits are down? Hmmmmm?

Tesco, on the other hand, have a corporate “can do” attitude. One which appears wholly focused on improving customer experience. This attitude turn generates more profits as well. Tesco profits are up? Hmmmmm?

M&S could learn about good customer experience from Tesco

Tesco realise a good customer experience also results in word of mouth referrals and yet more advertising free growth. I tell everyone how good the delivery service is. This falls into the emotional intelligence quadrants of understanding others and managing relationships with others.

In this instance, M&S have failed to see that customer experience matters. We will chalk it up to experience and, no matter how tasty the food may be at M&S, we will not return next Xmas and we will not recommend anyone we know does it either. In my humble opinion, M&S management urgently need some emotional intelligence awareness training and some process design skills.

Emotional intelligence and customer experience go hand in hand. Organisations can and should embrace this and so should we as individuals.

Rant over.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it interesting. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Here is another Emotional Intelligence focused retail experience post (The Apple Store this time) which you might enjoy: Customer Reality Is Bad At Apple

Who’s Watching You?

Dash camera being fitted to a car windscreen

If you knew people were watching you, would you do things differently?

How the feeling of other people watching me caused an unexpected improvement in my driving style after I’d fitted a windscreen camera to my car.

Here is the backstory

I recently installed a windscreen mounted camera in my car. You know, just in case there’s an incident I have some video backup.

Here’s my big caveat. I’m a big believer in anti-censorship. Despite recently publicised requests, by various public organisations, I’m not about to take any footage and submit it to authorities to then have them penalise what I consider to be the bad driving of others. It’s my subjective opinion only and it’s the thin end of a very fat wedge. I might deplore stupid behaviour by others but I must acknowledge their right to do it; behaving stupidly is their choice after all. Actual accident evidence is all I am interested in.

I tell a small lie here. Being only human, I might well keep and distribute video of meteor showers, unicorns, space ships, rainbows, ghosts, etc…

So what?

So, all that said, the first time I went out in the car with the camera fitted I noticed something very strange.

I noticed my own driving had improved significantly. Now I’m obviously a world-class driver and significantly above average (as we all are I’m sure) so I don’t mean the actual driving technicalities improved but I noticed I was being much more polite and courteous than normal. As I’m being totally honest here, I was also following road signage to the letter and being extra careful with my speed too.

A curious occurrence indeed and one which demanded some reflection and deeper analysis.

My “people watching me” explanation

I examined quite a few scenarios and finally realised the answer.

Subconsciously, I’d taken on board the fact that if I had a camera watching other people drive, it stood to reason that other people might have cameras watching my driving.

In effect, I was asking myself how my driving would look to others. Would I be embarrassed if I watched the footage of my driving played back to me? Would I be happy if the world were to see the footage?

These are actually very powerful questions. If all drivers were more aware of the camera concept would driving behaviour improve? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I certainly can’t hurt in my opinion.

Let’s take this “people watching me” idea a step further

Interestingly, one can take this “What if people were watching me right now?” question and concept further and apply it to other behaviours.

In a conflict situation for example, would you be pleased or appalled if your behaviour and language were to be made available to all? Is your cool lost far too easily? Are you a bully? Do you fold too easily? Would the fact that you thought people were watching your actions help you retain your cool adult demeanour and force you to adopt more effective influencing styles? I think it might.

What can you do differently?

The next time you’re standing in a long supermarket queue, a traffic jam or some other sub-optimal environment, consider how you would look on playback. Would you like a big screen telly showing your behaviour? If the whole community was watching you would you be comfortable with your behaviour? Try to be more mindful and adopt a patient, more relaxed mindset. The queue won’t move any faster and the situation won’t change any faster but you’ll be in a much better state when it does finally improve. Give it a go.

My driving has remained greatly improved so the camera will stay put for now – for accidents and miracles only of course.


Perfectionism kills creative output

Perfectionism is like shouting at a brick wall

Perfectionism is the enemy of creative output

Perfectionism has held me back. I have battled with perfectionism on and off all my working life. It can be a real productivity killer. If you or someone close to you tends toward perfectionism then read on and see how I now think about it and work to combat it. Perhaps you can do the same?

“Perfection does not exist. To understand this is the triumph of human intelligence; to expect to possess it is the most dangerous kind of madness.” Alfred de Musset

In order to get good at something you must put some work into it. If you are trying to become good at being creative you must first create some things. If your are seeking to become a high-quality writer, you first must write something. To become a high-quality musician, you must play. Once started you must keep going so the quality improves. It’s not easy.

Unless you are a legitimate genius who can conjure fully formed high-quality work from thin air then you must acknowledge and accept the fact that success in any field of endeavour takes work. I don’t know about you but I must follow the hard work process.

Work at increasing your output not your perfectionism

The more work you put into something will lead to you creating more output. When you learn and grow based on the feedback for each output event your quality will increase. Being prolific coupled with improvement through feedback will eventually lead to success.

For inspiration to keep my productivity high I always think about one of my personal heroes, Mr Bob Dylan. Whether you like his work or not you have to accept that Bob Dylan has produced a colossal body of work. Has the work always hit the mark or met his personal standards? Probably not, but the point is he did it all anyway. In my opinion, he always grew better and more confident as a direct result of his prolific output.

Ira Glass has some wonderful views and advice on the topic and I would urge you to look at this YouTube video: Ira Glass on Creativity.

Are you a perfectionist?

There is one sure fire killer of creative output and its name is perfectionism.

When you kill your output with perfectionism you severely, or even terminally, limit your chances of hitting your intended target for success.

Are you a perfectionist? Do you try to get things perfect before you release your work to the world? Well, I hate being the bearer of unwelcome news but here it is anyway. There is no such thing as perfect and no such state as perfection. You might as well try and catch smoke with a net. If you are trying to make something perfect you will fail. This post, for example, will never be perfect no matter how much I rewrite it. All I can reasonably do is the best work I can do then get it out there and into the world. I can do no more.

You can only do your best

If something once created is not perfect, many people who tend to perfectionism think other people will notice this and either ignore them or, possibly worse, criticise and hate them. This could not be more wrong or self-defeating for the aspiring creator of brilliance, which the poor perfectionist undoubtedly is.

Now, it is only right and proper that people strive to provide the best output they can for the intended recipients of their efforts. Notice that I said, “best output they can” and not “perfect output” because trying to get something perfect is morally laudable but ultimately completely misguided.

Here’s the thing. The perfectionist will never provide their intended recipients with anything at all because they never feel their work is perfect. It’s a vicious circle from which there is no escape. What do they fear? Is it a failure? Is it success perhaps? Do they really expect perfection in others? Do they really believe others expect it of them? There is something blocking them somewhere.

The law of diminishing returns

There is a law called “The Law of Diminishing Returns.” This states that beyond a certain point you get less and less improvement in something compared to the amount of effort applied to make that improvement. It will never reach 100% no matter how hard you try. Put more simply, if you get something as good as you reasonably can then more work will make only a slight difference. I’ve tried to illustrate this graphically below.

Your audience is not perfect either

If you tend toward perfectionism be aware that the things you may see as potential defects and shortcomings won’t even be noticed by your audience. Remember, your audience is not perfect either.

If what you must give or say is valued and valuable; people will value it for its own sake and not because it is worked, edited or polished to near perfection. Pour your passion and love into your work and people will get it, value it and love it likewise.

Make things as good as you can, by any practicable and reasonable measure, then get your work out there. You can always improve it later if you want to. People will give you feedback if you just ask.

I know that I can always edit this article based on feedback but, if it is not being read by anyone because I haven’t published it, then it may as well never have been written at all.

What valuable work are you holding onto because it isn’t “perfect” enough for you?

Be prolific and get your work out there for everyone’s benefit.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did enjoy it then please like it and, even better, share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

People Issues Cost Real Money

people issues cost money picture of burning money

Picture this people issues scenario

You are not really a people issues type manager and you don’t normally pry either. Thing is, one of your key managers has become a bit preoccupied and distant lately. Nothing you can point to directly but something has changed and their performance is not what it was.  You are struggling to rely on them for anything these days.

Apart from poor performance, it is the small indications you have noticed the most. They eat alone or go out for lunch. They do not make small talk. Laughter has been replaced by silence and occasionally even an out of character snap back.

You do not know why any of this is happening of course because you have not asked them and well, based on your experience with them, they would be unlikely to tell you anything anyway. It is probably just a phase and will all blow over in time. Besides you have a business to run and targets to meet.

Messy people issues are for HR to deal with, right?

Most managers will readily acknowledge the all too common scenario above. There are many variants and degrees of severity but essentially the situation boils down to a key worker having some sort of issue and their performance suffering.

Could be you are part of a large organisation and the effects are not huge in relation to the rest of the staff. Maybe the person in question is in a role which impacts few others in the organisation and has no impact on the customer experience. Perhaps.

However, what if you are a smaller business and that person represents a major percentage of your staff? What if they are your key salesperson or an agent who interacts directly with your customers? Perhaps that person manages a key department and the reduced performance and poor attitude filters down. What if that person is you and you are the CEO? What if indeed.

People issues cost real money

Even if you set aside or forget the basic human right whereby the employee should be helped to feel better on ethical grounds, try applying an actual pounds and pence costing to the results of the poor performance in terms of wasted wages and lost opportunity. Try a modest five or ten percent reduction and factor this into relevant organisational scenarios in your business and you’ll soon see some uncomfortable figures developing. These numbers represent money you are losing which should really be on your bottom line.

People issues rarely fix themselves

In my experience these people issues rarely if ever fix themselves. If things worsen for this person you are looking down the barrel of more disruption, stress related illness, sickness and even the employee leaving altogether; potentially with the all too common legal repercussions which can follow.

Someone wrapped up in a personal issue is generally stuck there. They cannot see a way out because everything looks black. If they could see a solution to a superficial problem there would be no issue in the first place, just an exercise in prioritising and resource marshalling.

People need help to get unstuck

Stuck people need a resource outside of themselves to get unstuck. As a good manager, you are duty bound to take positive steps once you know there is an issue. Some managers are great at being this much-needed resource but sadly they are in the minority. Many managers lack the skills and empathy to address the situation properly and, even though they may have the best of intentions, when they take a, “come on chin-up, it’ll be alright” or a “pull yourself together” approach this can often make the situation worse.

Even talking to someone at work at all can be a no-go area for the person with the issue because whether it is a work-related problem or a personal one there are a host of reasons they may not feel comfortable discussing it. They might not want to risk exposing their perceived weakness or failure any further. Their boss may in fact be the cause of the issue. They may fear a lack of confidentiality, even from an internal company coach or counsellor.

What is the people issue solution?

What then is the solution when you have someone who is stuck, suffering and costing your organisation money? You cannot simply ignore them and, unless you are a skilled and experienced coach who has the full trust of their staff, you are unlikely to help them effectively yourself. Internal coaching often doesn’t work due either for a variety of reasons already mentioned.

My recommendation is to bring in a high-quality external coach.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I may be a little biased here but my bias comes from a place of love.

I am a high-quality coach and much of my work centres on this very type of personnel issue. I and other high-quality coaches provide mental and emotional space, deep-dive questioning, a positively challenging environment and full confidentiality. The very things which stuck people need in place. These key elements enable them to open up fully and discuss, sometimes for the first time, any and all issues which are holding them back. It can and frequently does work wonders.

Coaching is an investment not a cost

When these people get back on track they often bounce back better than ever and the positive ripples can spread far and wide within the organisation. Whichever coach you do choose, make sure the chemistry is right and check that coaching is indeed the best option. A modest outlay in quality coaching at the right time can realise a massive return on your investment. It can add real value to your bottom line.

Don’t ignore those messy people issues. Tackle them early and engage them effectively.

Invest in some high quality external coaching support. The results are amazing.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Late arrivals can cost you a lot

Man literally running late for a meeting

Excuses, excuses and more excuses for being late

So, you are a little late for a business meeting but it should be okay, right? It is only a few minutes and besides it was not really your fault was it? The traffic was worse than you expected, that last e-mail was important and the people you are meeting are normally laid back and friendly so they will probably cut you some slack. The meeting can start without you and you can quickly get up to speed, right?

Being late is totally excusable, right?

Don’t be so sure.

Business people are busy. We have to make rapid and often automatic decisions about the world in general and the people we interact with in order to stay sane and make sense of the world. Everybody does this.

We put great store in first impressions. You need to make your first impression a good one.

This is basic emotional intelligence at work. Understand yourself and regulate your behaviour in order to manage your relationships with others.

Being late never hurt anyone, did it?

You’ll find it does often hurt someone very near and dear. Being late hurts you.

It would be nice to suppose that first impressions are formed by a person analysing all parameters in any given situation then making a rational and intellectual front of brain decision about the meaning and next steps. Perhaps the process might follow this route: “My appointment is late so I will check the internet and determine if there are potential traffic problems. Perhaps a flat tyre or important family matter? I’m sure there will be a good reason for it and I will happily bide my time in order to find out what they have to offer me once they get here. I’m sure the other people here will reach the same conclusion.”

Yeah, right

It would be nice but in the real world it does not often happen like this at all.

All first impressions are formed in our old or reptile brain and a summary report gets sent higher only after being screened here first. First impressions happen fast and they have durability too. Whether good or bad, this summary report lodges in the reptile brain. It is hard to get it rewritten once it is in there.

The old reptile brain is not very sophisticated but it is there to protect us. It is the seat of the flight or fight response. It checks for danger or threats. Its mission is also to prevent us wasting time and resources and to stop us using up valuable higher processing functions when it feels we do not have to. It seeks threat triggers.

For people who value and respect their time meeting someone who has a different view of time is just such a trigger. Someone who is late is perceived as a threat. Someone who is late equates to someone who will likely waste valuable resources. The negative report gets sent; it carries a lot of weight and it endures. The reptile brain has a number of such triggers. Other people have them too so you need to work hard to create good first impressions yourself.

We all have our shortcuts

I am a busy man and I place great store in punctuality. Timeliness is a key measure in determining whether I will work with someone or not when I meet with them or interact with them for the first time. Time respect is one of my key values. I will do everything in my power to ensure I arrive at places ahead of time in order to prepare and provide a professional first impression. I expect others to do the same for me.

Lateness indicates a number of fundamental things to me: Lack of care for self and others, chaotic and disorganised, untrustworthy, disrespectful, unreliable and arrogant. The list could and does go on. I do not want to work with people who exhibit these traits no matter what they have to offer. This will cost them money and gain them a poor reputation. If you do this it will be costing you money. Would I refer you to others? Unlikely.

Am I right or wrong?

Am I actually right about that person? Perhaps not but it does not matter. I simply do not have the time to apply my neo-cortex or my patience to the issue. Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face? Maybe I am but my reptile brain has detected the threat and sent the report and that is what I have to go on. These are my perceptions and, as for all humans, perception is reality. I have to make fast decisions in order to be successful and I am not alone.

Now, we cannot help events which are truly out of our hands. You may be in mortal peril and unable to contact me. The trouble is I don’t know and I probably don’t care. Inform me of your time status. Better to have the meeting rescheduled than have you show up late. I can then do something more productive with my time. We have mobile phones now and you must at least have written my number down as part of your preparation.

Aggressive lateness

Some people use lateness as a power play. They feel it elevates their status in some way and therefore lowers mine. I tend to walk away from these people and leave them to it because there are plenty of business people out there who are both punctual and a genuine pleasure to deal with.

When I feel a person has respected my time I tend to respect them more.

We all know at least one person who is chronically late all the time. They would be late for their own funeral as the saying goes. They are probably beyond help. If this is you then you are probably beyond help too.

Is there hope for you?

If you are only late now and again there is hope. Get a grip and take control of your approach to time. Get coaching if it helps. At least get a good alarm clock. Even if it goes against your normal preference you must show others you can respect their time if not your own. If you do not it could cost you far more than you think.

You are sending behavioural messages all the time so send good ones whenever possible. What other poor first impressions might you be making? What do you look for when you meet someone for the first time and why?

To get the low-down on effective people management skills check out my Amazon author page and see my full current range of no-nonsense business and self-development books. The list is growing all the time so watch this space.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Assertiveness is what exactly?

Young woman with metaphorical strong arms drawn in representing assertiveness

What is assertiveness?

I have mentioned assertiveness quite a few times in recent articles. What is it and do you even need it?

Assertiveness is one of those things everyone has likely heard about but no-one can easily define. We are often told to be more assertive but what exactly does this mean? What are we supposed to do more of? How assertive are we right now? What are other people doing about it? It matters so let’s define it.

Assertiveness matters

Your level of assertiveness and comfort when being assertive can have a big effect on your overall management and leadership style. This stuff is important. It can affect the whole of your life if your assertiveness is too low.

There are many on-line self-evaluation questionnaires available. If you want to find out your current level of assertiveness or your preferred interpersonal or influencing style then feel free to try them out. As with most things in life, there can be good or bad and free or paid for; take your pick.

The influencing styles

There are four main classifications of influencing style of which assertiveness is but one:

  • Assertive
  • Passive
  • Hostile-aggressive
  • Manipulative-aggressive (aka passive-aggressive)

Passive is a type characterised by an “I must lose and you must win” attitude.

Hostile aggressive is an influencing style characterised by an “I must win and you must lose” mentality.

The last influencing style listed is termed manipulative-aggressive or passive-aggressive. This type is characterised by an “I must lose so you must lose” mindset.

All of these styles are on a continuum. This means we all exhibit the different traits in different degrees at various times in our lives. Categories are useful but in the real world people are not so easily defined. Over the long-term it is likely we will favour one style over the others. If you are not sure, ask your trusted colleagues. They will then be able to tell you what style they think you prefer and exhibit most. It may shock you.

What do we normally do?

By and large, most of us choose to adopt the passive stance whenever possible, especially at work. You know the old “anything for a quiet life” and “why rock the boat” approach. Does the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” sound familiar?

If you are going to be a better manager then you need to be as assertive as possible. You need to know what assertiveness is so I had better start by defining it.

Assertiveness defined

Assertiveness means completely clarity. It means openness about how one feels and what one needs. The assertive know how to achieve it fairly. This definition is agreeable for our purposes. Assertiveness  requires assertive communication skills, assertive body language and confidence. It requires the ability to communicate calmly without attacking or yielding unnecessarily to another person.

Assertive people know they have rights. Assertive people expect certain things. They expect fair things in their work. These rights and expectations come with a caveat. They come with a responsibility to accord other people the same rights and expectations. So this idea of assertiveness adheres to a win-win approach to life. Adopting an “I get what I want and you get what you want” approach then means everyone is happy.

Sounds simple so why are we not all doing more of it?

So what can you do about it?

We should be, because learning to be more assertive will help us to express our thoughts and feelings freely, speak up and defend ourselves, know and stand up for our rights, negotiate reasonably and control our emotions effectively during periods of interpersonal conflict. It also applies when we have to manage difficult people.

Assertively managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

Get the book and get more assertiveness into your life

To get the low-down on assertively and effectively managing these and many more difficult personality types why not check out one of my latest books “Assertively Managing Difficult People” by Andrew D. Pope.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

You might also like to read:

Hostile-Aggressive People At Work

Difficult People At Work – Part 2

Difficult People At Work – Part 3

Doormats Are An Ultra-Passive Problem

Doormat picture with words The Doormat on it to represent the passive doormatsThe Doormats

They are the constant pushover, the too eager to pleaser and the avoider of conflict at all costs. They are the passive doormats of the organisation. I’m sure we’ve all encountered at least one such passive person in our lives. So how can these people ever be a problem to anyone? They won’t say boo to a goose. Think again.

This article takes a brief look at one difficult personality type you may either meet in work or have to manage in work if they are part of your team. This is one type you might not think is even a problem at first.

The ultra-passive Doormats or the people who just can’t say no.

They reject no request in an effort to please anyone and everyone who asks them to do something. Does this make them somehow super-productive? Does this make them dream employees? No way!

The Doormats are normally so over-subscribed and over-committed they end up pleasing no one. Doormats essentially and effectively educate those around them to take advantage of them because they are so passive.

What goes around comes around

Co-workers are often expected to take up any slack in order to keep the organisation, department or team in good standing. The grumbling will start and you will have to manage the fallout. This is all hugely ironic because the situation is often the direct result of the same co-workers taking advantage of The Doormats in the first place; all leading to the current overwork meltdown situation.

If you have a Doormat for a boss then are you in for a super-rough ride. They will take on too many tasks for the team, most of which cannot possibly be achieved, then to add insult to injury they will be too weak to defend the team against complaints about poor performance. Nightmare!

Passive people people problems go on and on

There are numerous other problems waiting in the wings. Ultra-passive Doormats can be a bully magnets. They sometimes take on small but mission critical tasks without telling anyone until they drop the ball and the smelly stuff hits the rotating cooler. They may also quietly filter critical information, up or down, often with the best of intentions.

Good intentions pave the road to hell.

All this happens because the ultra-passive Doormats do not like conflict and do not want to upset anyone.

How do you deal with the passive people problem?

Assertively managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

To get the low-down on assertively and effectively managing these and many more difficult personality types why not check out one of my latest books “Assertively Managing Difficult People” by me Andrew D. Pope

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

You might also like the following related articles:

Passive-Aggressive People At Work

Hostile-Aggressive People At Work

Assertiveness Is What Exactly?

Passive-Aggressive People At Work

.two passive-aggressive people facing opposite directions

Passive-aggressive people at work

This article takes a brief look at three passive-aggressive (aka manipulative-aggressive) personality types you may either meet in work or have to manage in work if they are part of your team.

Passive-aggressive type 1 – The Countdown Kid

The Countdown Kid is a passive-aggressive type who is likely very near to retirement. However, they are not looking to go out gracefully with some class and dignity. No, they are looking to work their ticket. They will play the organisational system for all it is worth because they have an agenda.

At best they might be doing the barest minimum they can do to get by knowing you can apparently do little about it.

At worst they might be seeking to try and force the organisation into paying them redundancy, an early retirement deal or some other thing they feel is available and which will yield them more than mere retirement. They do not care who they have to annoy or disrupt to get it.

They are a common feature of many modern, especially large, organisations. In large part the organisations themselves have created the problems themselves. There are many opportunities for these people to play the system. Opportunities arise because of overly-complex HR policies and poorly thought out historically created employment packages. Add to this new rules and regulations in HR and employment law and it is clear to see the fertile ground such people confidently operate in.

Passive-aggressive type 2 – The Guilt Tripper

The Guilt Tripper is the person who never lets people forget. They never let them forget the bad treatment they believe they have had at the hands of bosses and workmates. They never let facts get in the way of a good story either. Although their moaning may have some small kernel of truth they will happily exaggerate and embellish. Take their stories with a big pinch of salt.

The Guilt Tripper blames everyone but themselves for their perceived misfortunes. They never miss an opportunity to tell people either because misery loves company. They will badger anyone unfortunate enough or daft enough to listen of their woe-filled tales.

If you do not give them a particular task or project they want they will moan on and on about how you “did the dirty on them” or “stitched them up” and generally held them back. Colleagues will get the same treatment if they are felt to have contributed to this heinous act.

They never seem to worry they might be wrong. They don’t acknowledge the reality of the situation because that would rock their world. Failure to succeed due to a simple lack of merit or some other valid reason holds no meaning for them. No, it was an unfair act directed specifically and callously at them and no one else.

Like other passive-aggressive types they are adept at recognising and pushing the emotional buttons of others. Guilt is a strong emotional button for most of us. They look for people who might either believe or support them. They also seek people who might easily cave in to their bullying passive-aggressive tactics. If you can smell the acrid stench of burning martyr it will likely be The Guilt Tripper.

Passive-aggressive type 3 – The Control Freak

The Control Freak is a perfectionist.  As such they are unwilling to and often almost incapable of delegating work to others. Even if they are capable of it they are often unwilling to do it. If The Control Freak does manage to delegate, or is forced to delegate, it makes little difference. They will simply try to micro-manage to such an extent they may as well have done it themselves anyway.

Because they seek so much control they will actively manipulate people and situations to gain that control. They are definitely passive-aggressive in nature and behaviour.

The Control Freak is consistently controlling with everyone they encounter. They cannot help themselves and will reveal their tendency despite any efforts to keep it hidden. The Control Freak is therefore relatively easy to identify. Their behaviour can be extremely domineering at times. The Control Freak could well have been placed in the hostile-aggressive section of my book.

Having The Control Freak on your team can be a motivational sink hole. Having The Control Freak as your boss can be even worse. Either way, morale can plummet.

What should you do about them?

The Countdown Kid, The Guilt Tripper and The Control Freak. Make no mistake, if these three are not properly controlled or dealt with, you will struggle. These passive-aggressive personality types and others like them, are dangerous. They are dangerous to your morale and mental well-being.  They are dangerous to the morale and mental well-being of your staff, teams and your departments.

Both the hostile-aggressive personalities, mentioned in the previous article, and the passive-aggressive personalities mentioned in this article, are bullies. Take a zero-tolerance approach to bullying. Assertively stamp it out. Either turn it around, neutralise it or eliminate it entirely. If you don’t then the toxic types, who use bullying as a weapon, will take control of your working world.

Assertively managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

To get the low-down on assertively and effectively managing these and many more difficult personality types why not check out one of my latest books “Assertively Managing Difficult People” by me Andrew D. Pope.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

You might also enjoy these related articles:

Hostile-Aggressive People At Work

Doormats Are An Ultra-Passive Problem

Assertiveness Is What Exactly?

Hostile-Aggressive People at Work

Hostile-aggressive man in office

The Hostile-Aggressive Worker

Hostile-aggressive people can be the bane of a manager’s existence. This article takes a brief look at three hostile-aggressive personality types you may either meet in work or have to manage in work if they are part of your team.

The Big Bad Bully

The Big Bad Bully uses various forms of hostile-aggressive behaviour and tactics in order to intimidate others into compliance or allegiance. They might use anger, open or covert threats of failure or reprisal, blackmail, ridicule, guilt and/or shame. They will essentially use whatever tactic they can to get what they want. The Big Bad Bully has no worries about arguing or embarrassing others to achieve their ends.

The Angry Diva

The Angry Diva is someone who wants to be the centre of attention all the time and always get what they want. The word Diva implies a female bias but it is just an expression. Men are just as likely to be Angry Divas as women. Whatever the gender, in their world it is all about them and woe betide anyone who thinks or says differently. Many organisations have people like this at different levels because dealing with them is hard. If you are really unfortunate they are sometimes even in charge.

The Know It All

The Know It All. There is nothing you or anyone else can tell The Know It All because, in their opinion they have seen it all and done it all. There is no room for personal growth in their world but plenty of scope for it in other people. The Know It All believes they can do or say no wrong but they will be extremely efficient and keen to point out where you and everyone else went wrong of course.

Make no mistake, if not properly controlled or dealt with, The Big Bad Bully, The Angry Diva and The Know It All are dangerous to the morale and mental well-being of both you and the staff on your team or in your department.

What can you do about it?

Managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Much of this comes down to fear of conflict because of a lack of confidence. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively, assertively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

To get the low-down on assertively and effectively managing these types of hostile-aggressive people and many more difficult personality types why not check out “Assertively Managing Difficult People” by Andrew D. Pope.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

You might also enjoy these related articles:

Passive-Aggressive People At Work

Assertiveness Is What Exactly?

Doormats Are An Ultra-Passive Problem

Customer Reality Is Bad At Apple

Apple store - customer reality doesn't match the story hype

Customer reality gaps can hurt a brand

My customer reality at Apple has been bad. Very bad. Recently I commented on a Facebook post in which someone was bemoaning the poor customer service he’d received at an Apple Store. I added my two-penny worth and had a cathartic rant.

The post reminded me just how much the Apple store staff had managed to hack me off.

It also made me think again about the power of staff to chase away customers and destroy a reputation by failing to deliver on the hyped business story they’ve so carefully created.

Hopefully this article will make you think about your business story and how you and your staff back it up.

Here’s a brief summary

I have given The Apple Store two opportunities to sell me high end products in the last two years and the same irritating thing happened on both occasions. I gave them two chances as I felt that, given their hype as paragons of customer service, the first time might be an exception rather than the norm. They dropped the ball again. Did I simply catch them at two bad times or is it because there is a systemic issue with the customer reality at Apple?

Twice I entered the Cardiff Apple Store with money in my pocket and every intention of buying a top end base station model and left the second time vowing never to buy a physical Apple product as long as I draw breath.

There I was browsing the expensive models yet I might as well have been invisible. On both occasions I was completely ignored by the embryos that pass for staff. I am not the shy retiring type as people who know me will testify but I couldn’t even make eye-contact. The ignorance felt deliberate and intentional. I got the impression that they actually wanted me out of the store. I felt like a penniless hobo. Guess I just didn’t fit the specified Apple client demographic.

Am I just too old and knackered to be an Apple customer?

I’m over 50 after all so maybe not the poster boy they’re after but I do have a healthy disposable income. In my opinion, and let’s be honest here as a potential customer my opinion should count for a lot, they’ve taken style over function right through to the look of their buying customers. Well dinosaur I may be, but what a way to treat and then lose a potentially valuable and loyal customer. Every time I hear people raving on about Apple and how cool they are I just shake my head and laugh.

What was I actually upset about you might ask. Annoyed at being ignored? Yes. Extremely irritated at being written off as an old fart by toddlers? Yes. Embarrassed? Yes. Would I go back there or to any other Apple store or recommend Apple? Absolutely not.

Fundamental customer reality errors

These are basic customer service issues and even a simple “Hello, can I help you?” would have done the trick. I might have engaged with them and would likely have bought the desired product there and then.

Thinking back with the luxury of hindsight, I can now see what an incredible fumble they made. The fumble is on a much deeper level than simply ignoring any potential customer who fell outside their demographic because it smacks of corporate indifference. Staff take their cues from their managers.

Too much hype can create a customer reality gap

Amongst other things, I work with businesses on their ability to tell good brand stories which means I pay attention to these kind of errors. If you have or want to create a corporate story then you’d better back up the promised customer experience with the actual customer reality. Apple are portrayed as the doyen of corporate storytelling and paragons of the buying and ownership experience. What they failed to do on these occasions was back up the story telling hype with physical action and a satisfying customer reality.

That’s a deep incongruence in my opinion. If people told me how good their experiences were and how good the products were, would I give them another chance? No. As far as I’m concerned, they lied. It’s hard to un-know something and because I know the lie is there and the Apple mask has fallen.

Ultimately, stories live on through the telling and the re-telling. It would be nice to think that my Apple customer reality story is one they wouldn’t want anyone telling or passing on but, because they believe themselves too big to fail, I suspect they won’t care at all.

I dodged a bullet

I believe, because I walked away, I dodged a long-term bullet. If that was the real buying experience, I can only imagine how poor the after sales service might be. Can you imagine the scene if I ever had the temerity to show up again asking for help or support. I’d be a real pain in the you know what. It may not be seen as true from Apple’s point of view. They could show me a tonne of statistics on customer service success because I’m sure they have had lots of success. There’s a key difference because my reality is true for me. I’m the customer and my customer reality in the Apple store was terrible. I get to choose who gets my disposable income and that gives me some importance.

I have to tell you, I’m now a loyal and lifelong non-fan of the Apple brand because they had their chance, two actually, and they blew it. My customer reality did not match the much-hyped expectation. Only one chance to make a good first impression and all that.

Make sure you walk the walk

If you’re going to tell a corporate story then make sure you can back it up in the real world. Don’t just talk the talk, make sure you walk the walk too.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it interesting. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Here is a related article on Emotional Intelligence focused M&S versus Tesco which you may also enjoy and, just for the record, I do like some retail shops but not many.

Customer Experience Poor At M&S