I was walking through our office the other day and overheard one of our Customer Care representatives on a call. This representative said, very patiently, “If you’ll control C, you can copy that text…”  Using keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste content is a pretty basic word processing skill and explaining how to do so is also a breeze. Still, I felt compelled to stop and listen to the conversation, and here’s why – ‘Word Processing Tech Support’ is not part of the official job description for our Customer Care reps.

For the next few moments, I stood in the hall listening to the very nurturing and patient person on our end of the phone interact with the caller, repeating, “If you will hold the Control key down and then tap the ‘C’ key, that should do the trick…”

After complimenting our rep on his impressive handling of that particular call, I headed back to my office with the Control C  language repeating in my head like a mantra. Control C, Control C. Our rep (let’s call him “Stan”) had control, see? A poor play on words, maybe, but it’s true. No one had instructed “Stan” to be prepared to provide basic word processing instructions – he did it because he cares. He did it because he treats other people as he would like to be treated. Personally, I think he also did it because he is in control of the many aspects of his job, see?

My experience has shown that the more control a person has, the more money they earn, because they show they can handle the responsibility. In the ‘old school’ work world, following instructions and demands was a sign of respect and was often required to keep the job. I can remember my bosses from jobs past saying, “I did not ask your thoughts on how to do this, I just said do it.”  Ughh – can’t you just feel the creative juices and team player mentality drying up?

I imagine there is a room somewhere filled with all the ideas and creative solutions that DID NOT HAPPEN because of a negative, controlling work environment. Relinquishing control requires trust and courage. It also takes some monitoring and adjustments to deal with situations when someone takes the freedom a bit too far. I, for one, think the payoff is well worth any roadblocks along the way.

Imagine how different the experience might have been for the caller if “Stan” had not felt compelled, allowed and encouraged to do what was needed to make her feel most at ease? I cringe when I think of him saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that”  because he didn’t feel he was permitted to work outside of his job description.


— Becky Sharpe, President & CEO