Volume 8, Issue 5 - September/October 2006

Customer Service
Tips for Quality Service

Buzzards Versus Eagles 
by Carl Tompkins

Recently, I had one of my most enjoyable and memorable business experiences. It involved giving a 45-minute presentation to 30 young business managers who have been deemed “executive management worthy” and represent the future leadership of their company. Two reasons for my enjoyment were that there wasn’t one old dog in the audience, which meant they were still teachable, and that this young, aspiring audience holds the future in their hands, which may directly affect my own future since I’m rapidly becoming an old dog myself. 

My sponsors asked that I provide key insights as to what it takes to advance and succeed in the corporate environment. From my 30 years of experience working in many different type of companies, I had a load of information to provide. 

The Buzzards
My first slide was a cartoon showing two buzzards sitting on the limb of a tree overlooking a highway where a large bird had been run over and is lying in the middle of the road. One buzzard looked at the other and asked, “Why do you think the chicken tried to cross the road?” The other buzzard responded, “Who cares, let’s eat!” The learning point I associated with this slide was that it’s hard to soar like an eagle when you fly with buzzards. 

The stark reality of business is that the majority of people in the workplace do only enough to get by, require constant supervision, are consumed by corporate politics, have low self-esteem, have poor work ethics and, as a result, fail at delivering adequate results. At best, in most cases, a lot of talk goes on but nothing more happens. These types of people are deemed the buzzards. 

My conclusion to this audience of young managers was that they are viewed as eagles and to maintain an eagle status they have to remain focused on three absolute business priorities, which are being accountable in everything they do, dependable and results driven. Buzzards can become eagles by doing the same but, as I shared with this audience, very few do. This requires the eagles in business to stay the course and learn how to cope without getting their feathers ruffled.

The Eagles
I truly wish there were more eagles and fewer buzzards in business. The result would be much faster profitable growth due to improved productivity and much less stress on those eagles that carry the load. The good news is that everyone can be an eagle, based on choice and, as an eagle, they would know that they have made a great contribution toward their company’s success.

In order to become an eagle, let’s start with the need to be results driven. An old slogan of instruction states, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” Considering that you have to put effort into everything, why not put enough effort into any assignment to achieve positive, targeted results? It is far worse to put a half-effort into a project and get nothing. 

To provide some motivation toward becoming committed to delivering positive results, think for a moment of how often your job is negatively affected because others around you don’t care or don’t do their job. What feelings does this create? Then why be part of the same crowd? 

Another bit of news that I must provide is that effort doesn’t count. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the cop-out, “While we didn’t make our goal, we really tried hard.” This reminds me of the old saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose that counts, it’s how you play the game.” Do you know who uses this type of slogan? Losers. 

The fact of the matter is that the game of business must be played ethically, and winning is required. I once clarified the accuracy of this notion quite effectively with an employee who thought this was too strong a position. I stated, “We really tried hard to send you a paycheck for the past pay-period, but couldn’t find the checkbook.” As one might imagine, I got that good old buzzard response, “That’s different.” The fact is that it is not different. 

Regardless of your position, take pride in what you do and deliver results on a regular basis. Others do, so you have no excuse not to as well, other than feeling comfortable sitting on a limb overlooking some lonely highway.

The Right Stuff
Accountability revolves around the realization that you are responsible for who you are and what you do and that you have to answer for the results. The key to great accountability is to make good choices in how you spend your time. Flip Wilson, a great comedian, coined the phrase, “The devil made me do it.” Don’t ever lay claim to someone else being responsible for your accountability, or lack thereof. The good news is that, regardless of history, every day can be a new beginning, so make good choices and watch how everything around you improves.

Dependability is crucial in business and simply requires you to do what you say you’re going to do. One would think this to be a simple, straight-forward task. Would you believe that the number one reason companies lose customers is that they fail to follow through with their commitments? It’s not because of price or failing to meet some extraordinary requirement set by the customer. Instead, it’s by not doing what they say they are going to do. This is embarrassing. I read a story about a company whose only ability to attract and attain new customers was to provide contracts guaranteeing that their products would arrive on time or they were free. How’s that for a reputation? Remember, if you have the reputation of being undependable, nothing else matters.

Dependability is built one person at a time within any organization regardless of job description. There can be no breaks in the chain of dependability. Everyone must take their commitments seriously, keep track of their progress, and plan their time in order to meet deadlines and assignments. 

Stay Alert
If you happen to be in management, pay attention to dependability within your company because nothing is more de-motivating to a dependable group of results-driven personnel than a couple of bad apples who just don’t deliver. I live in absolute shock witnessing how many people are allowed to draw paychecks on a long-term basis from their company without making one positive contribution to justify this money. It sure is a slap in the face to those eagles who are over-worked and under-paid since they have to make up for all those deadbeat buzzards. One such tremendous eagle flew the coop two months ago when he resigned his post with a large national distributor following many years of top-ranking performance. This is a proven consequence of the over-worked and under-paid syndrome. His former company will never be able to find a replacement of similar caliber and all because management was asleep at the wheel.

Take pride in who you are, in your job, in your company and in your industry. This creates a great starting point and element of support toward becoming results driven. Take full advantage of being responsible for your actions and choose to do good things with your time. This will develop your ability to be accountable. This accomplishment builds toward your reputation of being dependable because you deliver on your commitments. Being accountable, dependable and results driven allows you to reach the necessary altitude of being able to soar like an eagle.

© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.