We have all experienced poor service, and it's likely that we've all been poor service providers at times in our lives.
What creates poor service, and how can we remedy that?
Poor service is characterized by a lack of seeing and understanding an individual for who they are. When we serve people poorly, we generally project our own perspectives on who those people are rather than making the time to listen to, observe, and learn about people. When we serve people poorly, we may jump to conclusions, judge quickly, or evaluate with the lens of our own insecurity rather than use an open mind.
I can think of lots of times when I've provided poor service to people. One time, long ago, with a new hire, I was quick to judge and jump to conclusions when the individual promoted a new initiative without my input, understanding, or knowledge. I felt invisible, and rather than meeting the situation head on, I reacted with judgement and frustration. It was a clear example of the old adage, "two wrongs don't make a right."
So poor service, in a large part, is hasty service--we may rush to judgement, actions, and decisions without the necessary time it takes to truly understand an individual or work with them.
In a case when I was treated with poor service, the service provider generally varied his story depending on with whom he spoke. That variability created confusion and a distrustful environment. The individual, I believe, didn't do it to be harmful, but instead didn't take the time and/or have the courage to solidify his beliefs, so rather than making people upset, he said what he felt would make people around him happy and satisfied. Yet that variability tore at the fabric of the community since people all held different narratives about what was really going on.
Good service is consistent, and good service providers make the time to read, research, reflect, and maintain their beliefs, values, and understanding. That doesn't mean that opinions don't change over time, but instead, that opinions stay consistent across people at the same time.
Poor service providers make too many promises they can't keep. As a big dreamer and an idealist, I have faced this challenge time and again. I come up with a good idea, share it, and then find out it is unrealistic given the time and resources at hand. Empty promises are evidence of poor service. Again, when good ideas emerge, rather than hastily share, we have to work through those ideas to see if they can become a reality. Going it alone is another typical characteristic of poor leadership--when we go it alone, we don't profit from the vantage point of others who help us to see an issue with a broader, deeper lens. Communities that focus on teamwork and collaboration are generally more successful due to the curation process that occurs with shared ideas and initiatives.
As educators we all hope to provide positive, transformative, and meaningful service to our clients including colleagues, students, and their families. We can do that by slowing down, knowing our clients well, enlisting them in the decision making, and being open minded to their individuality, needs, and interests.
There will always be room for growth when it comes to optimal service delivery, and if we're open minded to this proposition, we'll likely get better and better at it.