One of my friends runs a small 40 people Offshore Software Solutions Agency based in India.
I was at his office for a casual chit chat and I overheard a conversation between the management of that company and the employees which went like this: It was regarding Diwali 2009 leaves:
- How many do you need?
- Why do you need?
- Please cancel it.
- At least cancel half of it.
- But sir I haven’t taken any leaves earlier.
- I understand and I want to approve but I cannot.
- As an organization, we can’t approve all of these.
- It would generate customer dissatisfaction plus it would be a great billing loss.
- Do something – plan (any damn) alternative but cancel it.
- Take a few of it -may be later but not this time.
- But sir, normally I don’t take leaves.
- Then why abnormally you are requesting this time!?
- I don’t feel good canceling your leaves but I have to. Please cooperate.
- OK, sir, I will (unwillingly) do what you are asking me to do
- Oh gosh! I just managed to cancel 32 more leaves.
Awful. Isn’t it?
A typical example of tri-way lose-lose.
- The employees are at a loss because their holiday plans have flopped due to the unexpected rejection of their festival leaves.
- The clients are at a loss because their work is in the hands of frustrated engineers who are most likely to produce more errors in such situations.
- The organization is at a loss because both – the clients and the employees – are in a lose-lose situation and it would impact the quality of service and long term profits at large.
Any organization cannot afford to manage this situation as above. Here is what could have been done to better deal such a situation:
- The organization knew it from the beginning that they operate in international markets and thus with multiple cultures. They could do either of the following:
- When closing the sale, inform the clients about holiday lists that the agency is going to follow and get the client’s agreement.
- Inform the employees well in advance to schedule their leaves that match with clients.
- Offer a bonus to the employees for giving their festive time for taking care of the clients – and making the foundations of the business strong. (Make sure to make the bonus “lucrative” in the employee’s world!)
- Ask all the project managers to take care of holidays/leaves while planning the deliveries and get client’s buy-in well in advance.
- Nurture a client-focused culture organization-wide where each employee feels proud to adjust his priorities with client’s needs.
- Make the client aware of the festivals and holidays that you follow. Invite them to one of such occasion and let them taste the flavors of your culture.
Frustrated employees cannot make the clients happy. And, if your clients are not happy with your services, would they like to build long term business relationship with you?
Every action you take about your business counts. Think about it and take the action that serves your business in the long run in a sustainable way.