Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Veneers & maggots

Pitching up to run a course in a large impressive looking US bank in the City of London some years back, I was astonished to experience something that was anything but impressive .

Frankly, it was a mess, right from the moment I arrived: There was a mix up over training rooms, they couldn’t find a flipchart and easel for me to use, the pack with the course materials had gone missing and several of the delegates hadn’t even been told what the course topic was to be.

Eventually the course kicked off about 45 minutes late owing to all the confusions and mishaps.

Leaving the group at one point while they got on with an exercise, I took a short stroll around that floor of the swanky building. I entered a spacious lounge area with, at one end a huge high res screen on the wall. This screen was devoted to telling people in the lounge how wonderful and caring this particular bank happened to be.

I imagine that screen will have cost thousands of quid. Perhaps it was one of several throughout the building. Yes, it was impressive, yet I could immediately think of a better investment of such amounts of money.

Chuck more of  it my way!

That sounds brash and flippant but I’m being serious. My message to such organisations is:  Rather than spend fortunes declaring how “wonderful and caring” you are, consider investing more in the kind of training and development that proves it and delivers. The kind of training and development that would prevent  disruptive mishaps such as I’d experienced. The kind of training and development that would allow people in the firm to genuinely provide a caring service to their customers.

We live in a world of veneers. The veneers can be massively expensive to create and maintain yet can hide a very different story under the surface. As we cut through the sophisticated “packaging”, we  discover the equivalent of a box full of maggots – a festival of dysfunction.

All this prompts me to wonder whether there is a correlation between amounts spent on such veneers, and the degree to which related bold claims are actually delivered. In other  words, if an organisation feels the need to tell the world it’s so “wonderful and caring” then there is every likelihood that It’s not!

My plea to these organisations is to  throw  less at fatuous marketing messages and more at training and development for their managers and staff. Training budgets are probably a miniscule fraction of what’s spent on swanky marketing. Both have their place, but I think a shift of balance could make a big difference.

So come on, chuck it my way. In fact, not just my way but also in the direction of other practitioners who could help make a genuine difference to how you operate and handle customers – it’ll pay dividends!

Oh, and while I remember – a legend I saw on the side of a gas supply company van the other week: “Creating a better world for you“. You what?



One Response to “Veneers & maggots”

  1. Hi Chris, how I agree!! Training folk in interpersonal skills and stress a couple of years ago, we cited how many companies use slogans that say they care! Boots, Securicor, and (nameless) the one I was working in! When in fact they did not care atl all, just put pointless slogans on their livery.
    I so enjoy your postings, and read them whenever I can, please keep up the good work, Val

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