What’s He Doing up There? A Lesson on Getting the Right Perspective

The construction worker was tearing apart the ledge he was standing on. I was baffled as to what I was watching. What would possess someone to be savagely jamming a pike into the apartment ledge that was holding him in the air. Surely he must have known what was about to happen….

A couple of other contractors were watching from the ground. I was dumbfounded. The ledge was clearly wobbling under his weight and he was actively destroying what was holding him in the air.

It seemed dangerous and foolish. It also seemed like the very definition of short sighted thinking.

Granted, he was doing this work only one flight up and the landscaping and tree around the balcony made getting a ladder or scaffolding up there challenging. However, this still seemed like dangerous overconfidence.

Even after making all of these allowances, I think this contractor on the ledge provides a useful metaphor for the hazards acting before thinking. Jumping into action without a plan is something that people struggle with in determining their lives. This acting before thinking is something that most of us can be accused of rightly at some point in our lives. Maybe too many points.

I want to take a second and address it in terms of client relations and customer service, jumping into action should be the first instinct that one has with a client request or need. It’s also the first drive that needs to be trained out of you as it will jeopardize the relationships. Jumping into action without enough context, without the right priorities in mind is only serving the desire to serve your client well, and not actually serving your client well.

Too often we act too quickly to address the situation without an appropriate level of distance for perspective and planning.

The jump to satisfy the client can have you and your organization scrambling to service short term and incomplete thinking. It may be satisfying your instinct but is it serving the larger goals of your client and your relationship with them? In addition, this time spent on this task may impede your ability to serve your entire client base. If you haven’t looked at the situation and analyzed the context, you may as well be tearing up the floor beneath your feet.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before jumping into action and ending up on a client relations ledge:

  • Do you have the resources to support this request?
  • Does the request follow the plan you have made with your clients?
  • What went wrong that this request is happening?
  • What is the next request that will come and will this move your towards or away from your plan?
  • What more information do you need to make your response and solution and not just and answer?

I’m sure that the contractor on the ledge was there for a good reason. It may not have been as precarious as I thought in my 15-second view of the situation. They may have had experience and a different risk analysis of the situation from my perspective. But that’s what I’m getting at, take the time to get the perspective on the situation before jumping into action, and make sure when you do take action that you have enough information.