The Perils of Making Everyone Happy

Old_muleI recently worked with a call center Quality Manager who is an interesting case study in management. I observed this person criticize their own quality program to front-line agents, wanting the agents to be happy and wanting to present an "on your side" attitude. The same person then talked about the importance of the same quality program in meetings with upper management wanting to please their superiors and present an "on your side" attitude. From what I heard and observed, I don’t think the customer factors into this managers priorities at all, but I’m sure if they spoke with the customer they would talk about all the work they are doing in the quality program to make sure the customer is happy and to present an "on your side" attitude.

The bottom line is that this manager wants everyone to be happy. Their quality program is an ineffective mess, and the whole situations reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago…

A man and his son lived in the mountains with their mule, named Hiney. One day they headed to town, walking down the road and leading the mule behind them. As they passed a couple sitting on their porch, the man overheard the woman say to her husband, "Isn’t that stupid! One of them could be riding that mule instead of walking!" The old man didn’t want to be thought of as stupid, so he climbed up on the mule.

Further down the road, they passed a couple of women chatting by their mail boxes. The man heard one of the women whisper, "Look at that mean old man riding that mule while he makes that poor little boy walk!" The man didn’t want to be thought of as mean, so he got off the mule and put his son on the mule’s back.

A while later they passed two men playing checkers on their porch. "Look at that disrespectful boy," one of the men said. "He’s riding that mule while making his elderly father walk." The man didn’t want his son to be thought of as disrespectful, so he climbed onto the mule’s back with his son and they began to ride together.

A mile later they passed the veterinarian’s clinic where a couple of women were standing with their pets. "How absolutely mean!" one of the women could be overheard saying. "That man and his son are going to work that poor ol’ mule to death riding together like that!"

The man did not want people to think he was mean to animals, so he and his son got off the mule, picked it up and began carrying it down the road. As they were crossing a bridge, they lost their balance and dropped the mule over the railing. The mule plunged to its death.

The end.

The moral of the story: If you try to please everyone you’ll lose your Hiney.

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