Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Management by Fear

It’s noon on a Saturday, no breakfast yet. I saw a family restaurant nearby (No names, just its initials: I.H.O.P.), so I decided to go there.

The place was crowded; I was promptly seated and asked for coffee. After looking at the menu, I ask for a Turkey Sandwich.

After almost half an hour, Turkey Sandwich arrives. At the first bite, my teeth find the frozen tomato slices inside. After considering the pros and cons of returning the sandwich, (another 30 minutes?) I decided to keep eating the sandwich sans the subzero produce.

But wait. There’s more.

The taste of the soft drink was terrible, so I continued with my coffee.

At the register, I asked the cashier if someone read the comments in the suggestion box: “Oh yes! The manager reads them all! But he’s off for the day. Do you have a comment?” she asked.

After explaining the icy tomato and the flat soda, I asked the cashier if the manager actually does something with the comments inside the box:

“Well, he reprimands the guilty employee, and if it’s the third time, the employee is fired”

As you can imagine, the suggestion box is not the most noticeable feature of the cash register counter.

“So it’s management by fear”, I reply.

“Kind of…” was her answer.

I took a suggestion card and kept it. Apparently, the manager’s approach was not working.

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