The Morning Adam™ witnessed a scene at an entrepreneurial seminar several months ago.
It was a smaller event (35 people) held in a hotel meeting space in Los Angeles. One of the event staffpersons requested a glass of iced tea. He had a headache, and knew from experience that his regular headache medicine coupled with a nice, cool, glass of iced tea was the magic to cure those headache blahs.
No big deal, under ordinary circumstances. He slipped out of the room, went up to the front desk (which was both nearby and not busy as it was early afternoon) and requested the glass of tea. The attendant told him they’d bring it right over.
45 minutes go by. No tea.
But in that same amount of time, other hotel staff came by to remove empty water pitchers and adjust the room temperature. No tea, though.
The presenter called a 15-minute break. The event staffperson bee-lined to the front desk to ask about the glass of tea.
Here’s Where The Fun Begins…
The same front-desk person he spoke with before, suddenly had no memory of a request for iced tea.
After some creative memory-jogging on the part of the event staffperson (whose head was by now splitting in two from inside), the desk attendant, acknowledged, with a sigh, that he had called the kitchen about 45 minutes earlier to ask for a glass of tea to be delivered.
So he made the same call, and was told the kitchen staff were on break.
At this time, the event staffperson asked for a supervisor. Within seconds, the front desk supervisor appeared. That was quick.
The event staffperson explained the situation.
The front desk supervisor said “Ok, I’ll call the kitchen supervisor and find out what’s going on.”
He then made the call, got no answer, and said after hanging up, “Looks like no one’s there. I’ll call them in about 20 minutes to ask about your tea.”
With all these people making calls and following up, while still no glass of iced tea materialized, we’d like to point out
The Kitchen Was Literally Twelve Steps Away From The Front Desk
In fact, when the front desk supervisor made the call… the extension in the kitchen could be heard ringing by those standing at the front desk.
This fact was not lost on the event staffperson, who noted that:
- Nearly an hour had passed since he first requested the iced tea
- When he requested the tea, he had been told it would be brought to the event room “right away”
- Two other hotel employees had visited the seminar room since the initial request had been made
- So far, three phone calls had been made concerning a glass of iced tea, but no iced tea had materialized
Now in righteous frustration, the event staffperson asked aloud – and quite loudly –
“What I see here is a lot of talk, talk, talk, more talk, and a load of buck-passing. Do you mean I have to personally PROJECT MANAGE the pouring of a glass of iced tea and its subsequent delivery across the eighteen steps between the kitchen and the event room?”
More apologies and promises that further phone calls and follow-ups will be made came running effusively from every single person working the front desk (who otherwise were doing nothing as no hotel guests were in line to check in, check out, etc.)
STILL no tea, though.
Now let’s ask the question:
NONE Of The Four People At The Front Desk Knew How To Pour A Glass Of Tea?
Look at your own organizational team dynamic.
What happens when the business owner takes the day off? Do things keep humming along?
If a reasonable decision (not a life-and-death thing, just a judgment-call item to keep things on schedule) needs to be taken in the owner’s absence, does someone say “I take responsibility. If the owner has a problem, I’ll handle it” or similar?
If not, why not?
Does the phrase “Well, I did my part” come up more than it should? (Hint: the first time it gets said is one time too many.)
In short: are the so-called “job responsibilities” so tightly defined that if the official iced-tea getter is on break, 5 other people will literally stand around and do nothing rather than walk 12 steps to the pitcher and pour a glass for the hotel guest?
That could leave your entire organization… thirsty.