Sandra owns several movie theaters in the Northeast region of the US. When we first started working together, her staff turnover was high and she described her customer service as atrocious. Her staff was angry, frustrated, and not working for the welfare of the business. They basically modeled themselves after Sandra who herself was angry, frustrated, and spoke to the staff with a sharp tongue. The going line amongst the staff was, “Whatever you do, don’t tell Sandra.” The reason was that no matter what you would tell her, she would come back aggressively angry.
After Sandra and I worked together for several months, she clearly saw that her anger was actually covering up (1) her lack of trust in her employees; and (2) her ability to manage. She had a general fear of letting go and allowing her staff to take over responsibilities for her business which she began to see was unfounded since they were a capable group of young people.
The result of the work we did together completely changed how she operated. She started by letting go of being angry and instead approached her staff with open-ended, non-accusatory questions to accomplish training and management. She learned to listen to her employees in a new way which led to really hearing what they said instead of just telling them what to do.
She has created warm and respectful relationships with her staff who now will do anything to support her and the business. Whereas before she had a high staff turnover, it’s now next to nil and her customers have become her raving fans. They now tell her, “Your prices got me in, but it’s your customer service that keeps me coming back.”