Jobsworths don’t help anyone

UK SMB Girl has a fantastic blog posting entitled "Jobsworths don’t help anyone" that is a really enjoyable read with some great points made.

I was recently having a conversation with a client of mine who runs a number of Retail stores. He mentioned how difficult he found it to find new employees who were actually interested in doing a good days work. The majority, he lamented, turned up at 9am (if he was lucky) and immediately began clock-watching for the end of the day. Anything, as he says, is too much bother for them.

How dispiriting is that?

We all know the sort. The people who make you feel like a pest for interrupting their telephone conversation to pay for an item at the checkout. Or the Store Assistants who seem to know less about the products they sell than you do after 30 seconds Googling, and couldn’t care less about that attitude.

A while ago I was reminded by a former colleague of an amusing incident waaaay back in my IT Contractor days. I was fairly new to the client site, and wanted some stationary. On my first day, the lady I was told was in charge of stationary had begrudgingly helped me find some pens and paper. It was clear she didn’t want that job! On my second day, I needed a stapler. What I didn’t know was that the same lady had finished her old role in charge of stationary the day before, and was now an "Administrator" with no responsibility for stationary. Unfortunately, I made the unforgivable mistake of approaching her to ask where I might get a stapler. "Why should I know?" she barked. "Because you are in charge of Stationary?" I replied. "I FINISHED THAT JOB YESTERDAY!" she growled. "Ok – I didn’t know that. Who might I ask where to find a Stapler now?" I continued. "Ask someone else!" she snapped. My reaction? I stood at her desk and shouted as loud as I could "DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I CAN FIND A STAPLER, BECAUSE <JOBSWORTH’S NAME> HERE WON’T HELP ME FIND ONE!". The entire office stopped, and a dozen or more people suddenly pointed me in the direction of the Stationary cupboard. The Jobsworth couldn’t have gone more red with embarrassment!

Throughout the remainder of the day, people I’d never met before came to introduce themselves to me and to tell me how I’d brightened their day with my little display. 🙂

It’s a rather extreme way of demonstrating it, but the point here is – shame on her. How easy would it have been for her to explain she didn’t look after stationary anymore, that so-and-so did, but that you can find a stapler in that cupboard over there.

Most people walk away from situations like that silently fuming about the treatment they’ve had. I can tell you on that occasion that I didn’t!!!

Now believe it or not (and I’m sure you won’t…) I don’t tend to complain about products or services very often. I simply take my business elsewhere if I’ve not been treated well. On the occasions when I do complain, it’s because I at some level like the company/person/product and I’m giving them a chance to put things right – simply because I want them to remove that barrier to my continued business with them.

Most galling of all are companies and/or individuals who specifically ask for your ongoing feedback to help improve their product or service. So you give them that feedback – good and bad – and they don’t even acknowledge your contribution at all, or worse still, become defensive in response and make you feel like a "moaner" for ever mentioning it. Hey – trust me my friend, I’ll keep my mouth shut next time!

Many times, a simple "Thanks for that. Sorry you’ve had a bad experience, we’ll do better next time" is enough to satisfy me. If my complaint leads to a change in a non-customer friendly policy or procedure, so much the better. But the point is, I’m taking the time to point out how I feel the seller could improve their product/service. That’s free Market Research, don’t ignore it!

Susanne makes a number of great observations in her posting, but the one that sticks out for me is "that you shouldn’t be in a job if you don’t like it".

I couldn’t agree more.

If you’re in a job that you don’t like – what steps are you taking TODAY to help you move on to something better? If you’re going to be in that job for a while – what value or experience can you gain from it that might help you when you reach your target job? By the way, I’m pretty sure that being surly and apathetic aren’t traits any employer or potential client will be looking for in you!

Writing all of this makes me realise how difficult it may be to find an employee or partner to help out here at Netlink. I know finding somebody who will share the same passion for business, for helping clients and for being positive and treating people well will be difficult – but I’ve met enough of those types of people within the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community to know that such like minded people are definitely out there – I’ll just have to keep looking for one who wants to work with me. 🙂

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1 Response to “Jobsworths don’t help anyone”


  1. 1 Susanne September 19, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Great article and I\’m pleased that I provoked further thought. It\’s a subject that I reckon everyone has an opinion on and most would probably tend to agree with us! Thanks for taking the time to write this. 


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