I’m in the early stages of a book on managing and I’m starting to look for situations that might trigger ideas on areas I want to cover, and for situations that serve as good what would you do (WWYD) scenarios for potential managers. Scenarios give you a chance to practice without pain, and a chance to start to see the world through the eyes of manager. I’d also say that a scenario is a story with the answer withheld!
Joe SQL has been in the hospital for some performance tuning. A couple days into his stay he is moved to a different room on a different floor. Upon arrival at the new room he notes that the door has a sticker across it (ala a crime scene) indicating the room has been cleaned for the next patient – kinda cool! Upon entering the room is noticeably warm and the air conditioner doesn’t seem to be working, so his significant other (Mrs. SQL) asks the assigned nurse to see if can be fixed, as Joe is used to server room temperatures.. Mrs. SQL leaves to backup the databases.
Several hours later Mrs. SQL returns and the room is still warm, no news from the nurse. Calls and asks again for someone to fix it, or to see if another room is available. Hard to tell if the nurse is interested.
An hour passes and no action and no update, so on the way out the Mrs SQL visits the executive office of the hospital and is told that the problem will be corrected quickly. Within 10 minutes:
- Very senior nurse visits Joe to let him know that they are working on another room ready and on getting the AC in his current room fixed. Seems motivated to get it fixed, mildly irritated about the call from the big office downstairs
- Building maintenance dude arrives, spends 5 minutes investigating and announces it is fixed, turns out the cold water supply to it had been turned off
- Senior nurse returns to say an alternate room is available. Joe can move now, or wait half an hour to see if the current room cools down enough. Joes figures one cube is as good as the next, elects to delay the move and hope the AC works.
Senior nurse returns in about 45 minutes and the room is cool enough, seems mildly happy to have it resolved and to get back to business.
Most us look at this and call it bad customer service. Sure! But that’s the view from the customer. What do we see as a manager? If we looked at it from the perspective of each of the people on the hospital staff, who did well and who did not? As managers we often look at these in terms of blame – whose fault was it? I’m not advocating that approach, but it’s important to identify the failure point and reason to see if it’s possible to prevent a repeat of the problem, or of bad handling of a problem.
I know you don’t have all the details, it’s often that way in real life. But there’s enough there to see what you think about the role of a manager and how you think it should be executed. Tell me who did well and who didn’t, and why. Who’s the villain here?