The Mindset of Engagement

Last night I went to the mall for the first time in several months and was reminded why I stay away from that place.  My husband and I were on the hunt for some professional clothing items for an upcoming press event. Each retail store we stepped into provided similar experiences.

  • Retail Store #1: The first employee that we ran into was bored with his job. He did a great job taking my husbands measurements for a suit. When it came time to making the sale he failed to close the deal. You see they didn’t have the right sizes in the store. Instead of searching for us we were  told we were out of luck and good luck while we search somewhere else.
  • Retail Store #2: I was looking for a pretty simple item….undershirts. The young clerk asked if I needed help finding anything and I said, “Yes! I would love your help.” Upon explaining what I was looking for she pointed me to a table that was a disaster. So I asked where I could find the size I was looking for. Her answer was, “you will just have to dig and look.” She then went back and stood behind the cash register waiting for me to find my size.
  • Retail Store #3: I found what I was looking for and was ready to checkout. Upon several minutes at the cash register I went to ask an employee for somebody to check me out. Instead of walking to the front of the store and doing this herself she used her intercom to call a co-worker who came out in a gum chewing frenzy.  The story continues….Instead of giving me $13 in change I asked if I could give her $7 and have her give me a $20 back instead (I am not a huge fan of wads of cash in my wallet). She preceded to tell me that this was her second job and she can’t do math. Are you kidding me? Use your fingers for heaven’s sake. I let it go and went to meet up with my husband.
  • Retail Store #4: Heading out the door I noticed several employees standing around counting the seconds until 9 pm. More disappointing than this was how dirty this particular retail store was. The floors looked like they had not been vacuumed in days. Our experience was disappointing to say the least.  We saw a lack of leadership, a lack of customer service, and a lack of engagement.

The difference between mediocre organizations and great organizations is employee engagement. I am the type of person who is willing to pay extra for stellar customer service, or a great experience. Take my bank for instance. There are two bankers in particular who blow these mall employees out of the water. I quit using the bank drive through because they are both so good at what they do. They are gracious, kind, use my name, ask details about my work, and my business, and they care about me, the customer. They are engaged. The funny thing is these two people are in the same stage of life as the mall employees. The difference is they have made the choice to make the best of their jobs.

This all comes back to mindset. I don’t want to generalize too much, but my experience has been that the “mall employee” mindset is a fixed mindset. These people are here to punch a timecard, not to accomplish a mission. They don’t care about their work, or their customers. They are passing time until the next mediocre opportunity presents itself. My friends at the bank are different. They have a growth mindset. One young woman wants to be a dental hygienist, so she is using this job as a launch pad into her dream. It is an opportunity to grow, to get better and to influence people to the highest degree possible.

What is your mindset? Which employee are you? Are you disengaged? If so, what are you going to do to become a little more engaged in your work today?