Fostered Appearances and Worn Out Shoes

  worn out shoes 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul

"When we think of those who present a false front or "only"
a front, of those who dissemble, deceive, and defraud, we think of a
discrepancy between fostered appearances and reality." – Erving
Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Pg 59

A long time ago in a land far away I was an Operations Manager at
Circuit City stores. This was before they got their ass kicked by Best
Buy. They were still relevant (I would like to think) back then. No
used car business, just hard core retail. Appearances and reality both.

Anyway, I was 26 and had moved up to being an Operations Manager. For
those of you who didn’t have the pleasure, this is typically considered
the number 2 person at a Super Store. I have to admit I loved the job.
Really. There is a rhythm to running a super store during the holidays.
A cadence. A high velocity rush of helping people and making money, and
well it was actually quite fun. My goal at the time was to be a Store
Manager, but that got busted when I quit (a WHOLE different blog post).

Back then the operations group reported up through district to an
district operations manager. A separate tree from the method they used
towards the end where everyone reported to the store manager and they
in turn reported to the DM, etc. So there were two hierarchies, but
damn if the ship didn’t run TIGHT.

So the shoes. I was in a meeting with my Ops DM. A young Ops myself
looking at this cat’s job as a career path. And I ran a good store so
we were talking about how to improve. What could be better. Who were
the future leaders. This was probably 8 PM because the DOM traveled. A
LOT. I wasn’t a high priority visit store (manage variances, eh? and
this was before Demming was cool) because we did well.

So there I am. Meeting my DOM. And I look down. Not far down as he had
one foot up crossing the other knee. Asking me about shrink. And I look
down and there is a hole in his shoe. Through the sole. A hole. At the
ball of the foot. Clean through. Step-in-a-puddle-soak-your-sock type
of hole in your shoe.

Being the person I am, and was back then as well, I stopped answering
his questions and stated bluntly "you have a hole through the bottom of
your shoe." and then something pithy like "you need new shoes" or "what
gives?" or maybe even "are you OK"?  

Continue reading “Fostered Appearances and Worn Out Shoes”

Very Direct Crisis Communications from Northern Rock

Northern Rock, the troubled bank in the UK is approaching Crisis Communications very very directly. The Northern Rock home page, as I type this starts out:

Your Funds are Safe with Northern Rock

Northern Rock would like to make it clear to all customers that we are open for business as usual. We remain
a sound company and continue to be a safe place for your savings.

The Chancellor has made it very clear that all existing savings accounts with Northern Rock are safe and secure
during the current instability in the financial markets.

Her Majesty’s Treasury has guaranteed:

  • All accounts existing at midnight on Wednesday, 19 September.
  • New deposits made into those existing accounts.
  • Future interest payments and movement of funds between existing accounts.
  • All accounts re-opened by customers who have previously asked us to close their account between
    Thursday, 13 September and Wednesday, 19 September.

So far so good. Direct assurances to customers that their funds are safe. But then it changes into the implausible. He asks for new business? Wahuh? I think this is being a bit too optimistic.

If, like many of our customers, you wish to reinvest funds with us, simply download and complete the Savings Reinvestment Form, enclose a cheque and post it back to the Savings Department address given in the form.

I do applaud them for being direct. Perhaps step back before asking for more business. Either way, this is candor and that is always a good start. This will be interesting to see how it plays out.