We Can’t Always Give What They Want

February 4, 2010

OK, an obvious riff on the Rolling Stones We Can’t Always Get What We Want!

But here is a true story.

Lets wander back a few decades to when I was in the property management business.

First! We are going old school here, the Internet was still in prep school (the technorati talked SLIP, Telnet, Gopher), and the masses talked via BBS (Bulletin Board Systems – remember Mustang?) or CompuServe. E-mail? nope. Computing was an AS-400 and green screen terminals.

but I digress!

At one of our tenant companies, two individuals repeatedly complained to the commercial property supervisor that they were either too hot, or too cold in their work places.

Feeling that they were not getting an adequate response after several complaints, these two employees escalated the issue to their business Vice President, who then raised hell with our commercial property Vice President.

As crap usually flows down hill, the commercial property supervisor was hauled onto the carpet for a tongue lashing about not being responsive to the complaints.

During this event the commercial property supervisor demanded a meeting in the tenants offices with both the tenants VP, and our VP. After some argument – this was arranged.

So! its meeting day, the property supervisor takes both VP’s to one of the complaining individuals and asks about the temperature; Too cold was given as a complaint.

The trio then visit the second complainant who states; too hot!

Our property supervisor says; there you go, what the hell do you want me to do?

You see?

Those two individuals that were complaining?

They had their office desks fitted side by side!

In other words, there were sitting about 3 feet apart! So there was absolutely no hope that both could be satisfied.

And the lessons learned?

The first, and most obvious lesson; the commercial property supervisor would have bypassed all of this if he had simply picked up the phone and explained that there was nothing that he could do about the situation after he received the very first complaint.

But more importantly, we need to understand that we cannot satisfy everybody, every time. We can solicit input, we can try for consensus. But sometimes we need to agree to disagree.

We need to make the decision and move to the next step. We need to appreciate their input, but state that the decision is no longer on the table for discussion.

Photo Credit by jmc_sjsu via flickr

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