Sunday, November 22, 2009

About Workload - First Proverb

Chapter two of "The Zen of Bureaucracy" is entitled "About Workload." It appears to comprise maxims designed to assist the bureaucrat in tackling whatever task may confront him. For example, the first proverb in this chapter is:

"Remember that you can always pass the irate client on to those above you."

This is a rule that is more honored in the breach. For it is easy to forget that the chain of responsibility does not end with you. Especially when you are being verbally assaulted by an irate client.

Human nature dictates that you will try to ward off an unpleasant caller or customer as quickly as possible. Whatever tried and true tactics can be employed will be used including naysaying, stonewalling and out-and-out ignoring.

Oftentimes these tactics will work and your tormentor will desist. But sometimes you will encounter people who are annoyingly persistent, people who think they have rights and somehow think they deserve an actual answer.

What to do in those situtations? Simply remember that there is someone higher up in the bureaucracy who is paid far more than you and is ultimately responsible for dealing with annoying customers and clients: your boss.

The trouble is that you can't just pass every irritating clown up the ladder. You have to ensure that the clown in question has morphed into a swearing, hot-headed, violence-threatening troublemaker. Then you are fully justified in refusing to deal with the person any further and can pass him on to your boss.

But, you might say, not every irksome client is an out-and-out nut job. How can I pass someone on to my superior when he is simply justifiably angry about poor or non-existent service?

You can't unless, of course, you have learned how to escalate a client's anger and rude behavior without exhibiting any such behavior yourself. By simply and calmly refusing to deal with his problem and by repeatedly reminding him that there is nothing you can do for him, chances are you will transform him into a raving lunatic.

Once he starts screaming or launches an f-bomb or two, you are fully justified in calmly informing him that you do not have to tolerate such behavior. You then give him your boss's number, hang up and get back to the game of computer solitaire or minesweeper that he so rudely interrupted.

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