Please Make It Stop! How One Woman Spotted a Company Crisis

One day, in the middle of a call center, a very pregnant young lady (as opposed to being just a little bit pregnant) stood in the middle of the aisle that ran between dozens of cubicles and shouted at the top of her lungs: “Someone please listen to me! Something terrible is happening!” And it had nothing to do with being pregnant.

Company Crisis Solved by Laura Benjamin

THE STORY:

She was from Accounts Receivable. For days she’d been getting angry phone calls from customers saying the company had cleaned out their checking accounts. They’d placed a phone order for a few items and were charged for a whole lot more. One lady ordered 11 items and was charged for 110.

Customer Service had also gotten calls from folks who desperately begged, “Please, make it stop!” Delivery guys showed up at their doors and unloaded boxes upon boxes of product. One lady had asked that her items be delivered to her office. So there she was, holding the door open for the delivery guy, crying on the phone with boxes of product piling up all around her.

  • People who’d requested Express Delivery (like FedEx) were charged the $25 fee, multiplied by the quantity they’d never ordered.
  • Rapidly reduced inventory levels triggered purchasing, prompting automated requests to manufacturers to resupply depleted stock.
  • Shipping had to bring in extra trucks and add people to the packing line.
  • Phone reps didn’t know whether to ask for product to be returned or tell customers to keep it. 

It was totally out of control. And nobody had put the pieces together until this frustrated young lady from Accounts Receivable demanded attention.

Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers —Unknown

She’d tried to sound the alarm the nice way, the quiet way, the politically correct way. And nobody listened. Nobody took her seriously.

Till she made a spectacle of herself. They everybody noticed! And they hustled to pull together a team that worked late into the night trying to figure it all out.

HOW THE CRISIS WAS SOLVED

Turns out someone had worked on the phone order system a few days earlier. He’d removed the phone order audit filter, which allowed the computer system to add a “0” or “1” to the quantity of each order placed by phone. And he forgot to switch it back on.

It took a while, but the problem was solved. Protocols were created. Customers were made whole. And after a while, things returned to normal.

But nobody looked at that outspoken young lady quite the same way again.

She was a hero. She took a risk. She knew something was seriously wrong and took the bull by the horns. She put the pieces together.

And she had a healthy baby girl!

WHAT PEOPLE SAY THAT MAY SHUT US DOWN

People say lots of things that discourage us from stating concerns, frustrations, requests for action or change, including:   

  • You’re just too sensitive
  • You’re making a mountain out of a molehill
  • She’s such a troublemaker
  • He’s not a team player
  • You’re not open-minded OR you’re too open-minded
  • You’re being insensitive and might offend someone
  • She’s just too fussy
  • He’s always so negative
  • You’re not being strategic enough

And if we accept those labels and back down, it’s likely because it’s more about us than the issue at hand. We don’t want to rock the boat or appear uncooperative. Maybe we dislike conflict. We worry about our image and reputation.

Maybe more problems would be solved. Maybe we’d mentor more decisive and courageous leaders. Maybe confidence would grow and people would be willing to tackle more gnarly challenges.

Don’t let someone tell you that your issue or concerns are not important. Don’t let them shame you into becoming a mediocre player. Excellence is not always a popular place to be.

So, whatever happened to the guy who removed the audit filter? (People were placing bets.)

He kept his job. The leadership team knew that everyone makes mistakes, which often reveal vulnerabilities and creates an environment where problem solvers will shine!

WOC 002: Personal Courage with Sandra Ford Walston [Podcast]

Sandra Ford Walston from Denver, Colorado is the Courage Expert. In this episode, we hear how courage became a mighty force in her own personal life, how leaders can build courage and why fear is not the opposite of courage. Sandra leads the charge to help us take control of our lives and rise above adversity.

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO

Sandra Ford Walston is the author of three books on courage:

Courage Expert Sandra Ford Walston

The Courage Difference at Work: A Unique Success Guide for Women

Courage: The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman

Face It: 12 Courageous Actions That Bring Success at Work and Beyond

Read more about Sandra’s work at SandraWalston.com

Source Wheel Behaviors of Courage Diagram

 

SHOW NOTES: In this episode you will learn…

-What we mean by courage

-Why fear is not the opposite of courage

-Our ego loves to create suffering

-The 3 biggest fears we face

-Candor is a cousin to courage

-Saying “I don’t know” will set you free

-12 Behaviors of Courage:

  • Confess
  • Complacency
  • Contradictions
  • Conformity
  • Clarity
  • Consistency
  • Controversy
  • Concentration
  • Compassion
  • Contentment

Read Sandra’s articles here.

6 Ways to Face Fear and Create Courage

I think we create courage only after we’ve been intimate with fear.

Have you ever felt fear?

I’ll bet you have.

CourageDoesNotAlwaysRoarIt can come from many directions: fear for the safety of our loved ones, fear of loss (job, spouse, health, home, reputation), fear of success or failure, fear of a change we’re unprepared for.

I don’t see myself as a courageous person. I just try to put one foot in front of the other and move forward in a positive direction. I try to do what needs to be done.

But there have been times, let me tell you, when I’ve been frozen in fear. I had to work hard to find the courage to take that next step. I discovered a few strategies that helped me pull through – some of them I’m using right now as we rebuild after the fire.

Maybe these ideas will help you too:

1. Consider the alternative. What are the other options available to you? Giving up and letting someone else carry the ball is one. Retreating back to your safe zone is another. Do either of those choices sound attractive? Will you be happy with yourself if you allow it to happen? Will it improve your condition or that of the people you care about?

2. Look to someone you admire. They’ve been through it. They haven’t gotten to where they are now without some sort of struggle. I guarantee it. Maybe it’s time you have a heart-to-heart talk with them. See if they’ll describe the tough times and how they survived. They probably won’t say anything you haven’t heard before, but just hearing their story may encourage you. If they can do it, you can muddle through too.

3. Imagine yourself wading through the mess and reaching one small goal. Taken alone it might not seem like much, but in looking back, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve gotten through. Visioning is powerful. The ability to see ourselves succeeding builds self-confidence and helps us muster up the courage to take that first step.

4. Document your accomplishments. I keep a “Breadcrumbs Book” where I’ve listed all the milestones from this past year. It helps when I’m tempted to let myself get overwhelmed at what still lies ahead. I can look back in my book and see how progress unfolded.

5. Rally the troops. There are more people rooting for you than you can imagine. Reach out to a few of your best advocates, closest family and friends. Ask them for help or just a listening ear when you need it. Sometimes, just talking it through is enough to relieve some pressure and get a few new ideas on how to cope. Holding it all inside won’t do you any good.

6. Value the pluses of patience. When we lost the house, advisers said, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” I didn’t really understand the depth of that wisdom when I first heard it. But I know now that patience has been one of the biggest benefits of facing fear. Solutions don’t come quickly. I’ve had to learn to trust in the process and God to help us get to the other side.

I’m not blowing smoke at you. These past few years have been the hardest of my life. I’ve had to accept my challenges, consciously choose a positive path and try to create something good from each one of them. I believe that making the decision to improve your condition, even in some small way, is the best way to face fear.

Courage is indeed the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow.”

How have you persevered? What’s helped you put one foot in front of the other? Please share your suggestions in comments below.