4). Thai..ke Thyme: What is your work ethic?

Controlled ChaosFrom my earlier blogs you will remember that we were in Bangkok and that I hadn’t had great success with the tuk-tuk drive to who knows where. My sister and mom had decided to approach the situation differently. I instead took to the streets on my trusty feet. I knew how to put one foot in front of the other – I was safe!

I wondered up and down the Chinese market area, initially I did this very conservatively as I didn’t want to lose myself (albeit on my own two feet). I went up and came back down. Finally I got more adventurous and branched to the left and right. You may be wondering why so conservatively – well it’s literally a rabbit’s warren, small side alley’s going this way and that with people working in the smallest of spaces and even scooters managing to traverse the really narrow alleys laden with goods.

I allowed my mind to wonder and consider how it would be to work in such a very small space each day, to be doing what may be called repetitive and not hugely challenging work, not to mention the very long hours that the Thai people worked.

I watched for a while and noticed that they were meticulous in their space, although it was small there was a very specific and designated order about this small space, it was clean and also the manner in which they worked – this was all very exact. I looked at the faces of these enterprising people, none of them looked disgruntled with their work load or with their “lot in life”. They all were very intent on doing the very best that they could and making sure that the way they worked didn’t impact negatively on their neighbour.

I remembered the previous evening when my sister and I had left the hotel to go exploring while Ant read his Kindle and my mom had a soaking bath.

We had wondered down the streets and spotted a fellow squeezing fresh lemon juice. Lauren decided that was precisely what she needed; fresh lemon juice. I was keen on fresh pomegranate juice, so we decided to indulge separately.  She ordered and paid for her lemon juice. The proprietor carefully chose the lemons, cut them precisely and carefully squeezed the juice into a container. He then delicately poured this into the clean glass, wiping the glass rim after.

Before handing it to Lauren he pointed to a table and indicated we should both sit. Although this was not a costly purchase, and only she had purchased from him – he provided us with two chairs. When we were seated he proudly put the fresh glass of juice in front of her waiting for her to take a sip and then asked “good?” and she nodded definitely so! Some beggars came past and asked for money. The proprietor gently but firmly shooed them away so that she could enjoy her juice in peace and quiet. All of this was done with precision and pride. While she sipped her juice he meticulously set about cleaning his juicer for the next customer.

He was hugely proud of the service he was providing to his clients. He had not given us one chair; he had noticed she would enjoy her purchase much better if we were both seated. He also allowed us to do so in peace without being bothered by others who may take our focus away from the goods/service he had provided.

I thought back to this moment and considered how western people approach work. We are often irritated by working in small confines, about the menial and or dull or repetitive nature of our work or work environs. We like to have “grand tasks” that challenge us, that we can be noticed and acknowledged for.

If the work is not of great stature, we tend to look for short cuts to getting there “quicker” whilst wasting vast amounts of energy mumbling about the dullness of our work. The full ritual of what we need to do often tends to be compressed into a shorter version compromising the quality of the service that one may expect to get.

Often we work harder instead of smarter, we look frantic and busy to be called productive and busy – yet we take so little pride in what we have done as we often find ourselves running out of time or the deadlines just “ran away from us”.

Do we go the extra mile and provide the “extra chair?”

Other times people engage their tasks in glazed doughnut mode, the look of someone “not quite present in the performing of their task”. Their bodies are physically in one place but mentally they are in another, the vacant place to rent stare. Maybe it speaks to thinking one just can’t have a bad day can you, if you are not fully engaged in the day as it is?

Clients who land up with these types of service providers will look for service somewhere else. In today’s world if you want to keep your clients, no matter what the job, it is essential for us to be fully engaged.

As for our working ethic, it can often be described as being physically on site on premise. Are we always outcomes based focused considering delivering the best we can all the time? That work model is the ultimate prize. Tackle your work the right way, follow time honoured steps and methods, take the time to be meticulous, be proud no matter how small you may consider your contribution to be!  And lastly, ensure that while you do this you are fully present and engaged to all that you need to be, there is nothing worse than dealing with someone who has the glazed doughnut approach to life!

1 thought on “4). Thai..ke Thyme: What is your work ethic?”

  1. So true, Eldette! I travel monthly on business to Japan, where service is an art form. Purchasing a bag of cashews and a carton of tea at a convenience store is a remarkable experience, as the service greets me cheerfully when I enter the store, smiles as I bring my purchases to the counter, carefully bags them, and even throws in a straw so I can drink my tea out of the carton with ease. And my change is handed to me with loving care as I’m thanked for my business. Is this sincere, or merely tradition or habit? I don’t care! I enjoy receiving this quality of service, and miss it greatly when I get back to the US where the service is quite a bit less extraordinary.

    This example of service in a mere convenience store has inspired me to think about how I can improve the quality of my own work through heightened self-awareness and awareness of my impact on others. When I facilitate a workshop I notice details of each person’s participation and take time with at least one or two people to mention their strengths to them during break time, at lunch, or at the end of the day. And I’ve started sending follow up messages, even for short workshops, that remind the participants of the key points of the workshop and the importance of putting into practice what they learned. These small changes in my service delivery have resulted in greatly increased customer delight.

    Recently I’ve spoken with some people who complained that they have no freedom over how they do their work, but each of us has the power to make many small choices that can greatly improve the quality of our teammates lives or our customer’s experience. Taking pleasure in making such improvements in seemingly small areas can give meaning to an otherwise unfulfilling task. For me it’s refreshed and enriched my experience of teaching some of the shorter workshops that I’ve grown tired of after hearing my own jokes too many times. Thanks for the reminder!

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