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Beware leaving frontline people with only ‘negative power’

I was invited to breakfast a few weeks ago at the home of Charles Handy, the business guru and author. So I didn’t look too ill-informed or stupid, I read his latest book ‘Myself and Other More Important Matters’ before going for breakfast.

In the book, Handy reminds us that if our direct reports, co-workers, front line colleagues etc., do not feel valued or do not feel that they matter, they can easily take it out on the people they do have some power over – your customers.

Here’s what he wrote:

“In one recent survey, seventy-two percent of workers said that they were dissatisfied with their organization. Nineteen percent said that they actively wanted to sabotage it.

“…Frustrated workers can be tempted to activate the negative power that even the most humble possess. The woman in the call center who puts the phone down on me, the waiter who ignores me, the airline employee who closes the gate just as they see me rushing up – they may be exercising their negative power because it was the only way they had of demonstrating that they mattered.”

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