I can’t help but continue to ruminate on my interaction with El Al Israel Airlines as noted in my previous post on missed marketing opportunities.
It is not that I am angry or even disappointed. I am perplexed that given an opportunity to make a customer for life, instead a key employee chose to lie about an interaction rather than to stand by her decision.
I noted that I sat down with the two top executives of the airline to tell them my story and to see if they might act differently than one of their key employees in the New York office, no doubt the company’s largest office.
While I was sitting with two top executives, Sheryl Stein interrupted us in a very annoyed tone and stated that she had had five conversations with me about the situation and that it had happened 4 or 5 years ago and that I could not keep asking people the same question looking for a different answer. Of course that begs several questions.
If Sheryl Stein, one of the top managers at El Al’s largest office in New York was so confident that she made the right call, then why would she interrupt a meeting between her boss and a customer? Why did she feel the need to lie about how long ago the contest had been or about how many times she had spoken to me about it? Why did she feel the need to try to undermine my credibility, the credibility of a customer, at the ultimate expense of her own?
Of course defensiveness is a fairly natural reaction when we are attacked. It comes from the reptilian brain, not a conscious place committed to growth. It is certainly not a healthy response if we want to get better at our jobs or become better human beings.
I suspect what was going on with Sheryl Stein at El Al is that she was afraid of her bosses hearing from a customer who was less than pleased with her business decision. But if it was a good decision, then why the fear? If she had done a good job, then why not let the customer tell the boss who would confirm that she did a good job? In fact, that is what ultimately happened. Unfortunately for her, she compromised her integrity for fear that he would not.
Of course the real question is not what she was trying to hide from her bosses, that is her problem. The real question is what we can learn from her. The Bible has stories of good and bad, so that we may learn from both. I don’t have any employees right now, so I am less worried about what they hiding from me in my business than in how I might be stunting my own growth at times out of fear.
So what are your employees trying to hide from you and what are you doing out of fear rather than out of a commitment to growth? Finally I suspect there are some bosses who might value Sheryl’s “protecting” them from customers. What do you think?