“I hate people. They are the worst!”
I admit to saying these very words on occasion. I suppose everyone gets frustrated and angry with our fellow humans from time to time. Yesterday was one of those times for me. I’m flabbergasted by the choices people make in business, and try to understand the reasons that people get away with bad customer/employee service.
Before you judge me as a mean, negative person for saying I hate people, let me share my story.
As a consultant, I help business owners and organizations recruit new team members. In order to increase my network, make a few dollars, and get a feel for what businesses deal with on a daily basis, I occasionally accept temp work from an agency I’ve had a relationship with for 25 years. My story begins about a month ago when I accepted one of these temp jobs.
I arrived at a dental office in West Seattle on Monday morning August 31st. I worked an entire day in an administrative/customer service role. The office manager (let’s call her Della) was very unorganized, harried, and generally stressed out. I stayed out of her way as much as possible because we just didn’t gel. None of the other staff members initiated contact with me, nor seemed to appreciate the help I was giving them. The dentist business owner (let’s call him Dr. Tooth) seemed nice, but aloof.
At day’s end I left my completed time card, and was told payday was that Thursday, and I could expect a check in one week.
I didn’t get my check when expected. As I considered calling Della to follow-up, the agency called with a request to temp another day for Dr. Tooth the upcoming Monday – September 14th. I thought to myself, “If my check doesn’t come this weekend, then at least I’ll be able to inquire about its whereabouts when I’m working IN the office”. I took the job.
“I never received my paycheck from the last time I worked here”, I said to Della when I saw her that Monday morning.
“Oh, what do you mean?” she asked.
I replied “According to the agency, Dr. Tooth is to pay me. You told me last time I was here that payday was that week. But I haven’t received a check”
Della began to shuffle papers around her desk. She couldn’t find the time card I had given her a copy of when I left on the 31st. “Oh, I guess I forgot.”
I FORGOT was inexcusable, but I’ve made mistakes myself, so I kept my cool and suggested she add that day to the pay period that will cover today’s hours. Della was happy with that solution. She then told me payday was the coming Thursday (three days from then), and I could expect my check on Monday.
The rest of the details are best understood in the following timeline:
MONDAY: I was delighted to find an envelope in my mailbox with Dr. Tooth’s name in the return address area. However, inside the envelope was a check stub showing the hours for both days I worked and the proper rate of pay….but there was NO CHECK. That’s right, NO PAYCHECK in that envelope. Strange.
TUESDAY: I called Dr. Tooth’s office. No one answered, but I left a voice mail explaining my confusion in getting the check stub but no check.
WEDNESDAY: I received a voicemail from Helen (likely the person I had filled in for) at Dr. Tooth’s office. Her message claimed that she had alerted Della to the problem, and that another check had been issued and that she mailed it out TODAY. She ended her message with, “If you don’t have the check by Monday, please let us know”
THURSDAY: No check
FRIDAY: No check. Dr. Tooth’s office was closed according to their voicemail, and I did not leave a message. What would be the point if they weren’t in until Monday?
I did call the agency, though. They had empathy for my position, but explained that Dr. Tooth had 30 days from the day I worked to pay me. My only recourse was to wait until the 30th (Wednesday) and then file a report with Labor and Industries if I didn’t get paid by then.
SATURDAY: No check.
MONDAY: UGH! Dr. Tooth’s voicemail again! “This is Jackie Bailey. I did some temp work for you on the 31st of August and the 14th of September. I have not been paid for either day. Helen’s message on Wednesday last week reported that a re-issued check had been mailed to me. I still don’t have it.”
I continued, “Because I know you legally have 30 days to pay me, I will be driving to your office tomorrow to pick up my paycheck. I’m tired of chasing my check, so I will expect it to be ready for me tomorrow.”
TUESDAY (yesterday) morning: Helen called me to say, “I’m sorry you still haven’t received your check. Dr. Tooth says he will re-issue you a new check, and it will be ready for you today. What time will you be coming by?”
I told her I would be there after twelve o’clock noon. She asked me the amount I’m owed. I provided that for her, and she said there would be someone at the desk all day until 5:00.
I walked into Dr. Tooth’s office at 12:30. There was no one at the front desk, nor was Della at her desk. I stood there for about three minutes. Then Dr. Tooth walked out front. He recognized me immediately. “Hi!”, he said. “I don’t know what happened to your check, but we’re going to issue you a new one.”
“Thank you” I said.
Then I watched Dr. Tooth walk into an operatory where a patient was waiting in the dental chair. I was alone again, standing at the front desk.
Soon, Della walked out. “Oh, hello” she said when she saw me. “How are you?” We exchanged pleasantries, and then she asked, “You still didn’t get your paycheck?” (silly question)
“I don’t understand because the payroll service does that.”
I took out the pay stub I had received and handed it to her. She looked at it, took it into her office and began digging through drawers and overturning papers on her desk. I watched her make a copy of the pay stub I’d given her.
At that moment, a patient came out of the back office, and another one entered the office from the street. They both stood at the front desk next to me. Della came back to the desk holding the pay stub. She said, “It’s really strange. I don’t know what happened to it. I may have written your address incorrectly.”
I said, “Obviously, the address is correct – I received the pay stub”
“Yes, but I may have written it down wrong when sending the check. I went off of your hand written time card. They probably used your W2, so I don’t know what happened.”
I asked, “This isn’t the first time you’re hearing about this is it?”
“Well, no” she said.
“I called last week,” I said.
She said she needed to take care of the patients standing at the desk, and she’d be with me in a few minutes. I took a seat, frustrated that this was taking longer than I had time for – especially since I was told the check would be ready for me to “pick up” which denotes being ready ahead of my arrival.
A third person entered the office and sat down in a chair near me. The other two patients were checked in/out as the situation called for. Della was gone again. About that time, a younger woman walked in and stood behind the desk. I assumed she was Helen. She greeted the man sitting next to me, then asked me, “Has anyone been helping you?”
“I’m Jackie Bailey, and there are a few people dodging me.” I said. (I know, not real professional, but I feel like I’m being taken for a ride, here.)
Helen laughed uncomfortably and said, “I’ll see what’s going on.” She came back a few minutes later to say, “Dr. Tooth is with a patient, so it will be a few minutes before he can sign it”.
Della came out to where I was sitting and handed me the pay stub. She repeated the same line, “I just don’t know what could have happened.”
I said, “At this point I don’t care what happened to the first check, I just want to get paid”
Della replied tersely, “Well, I care what happened.”
“I understand,” I said. “You can continue to investigate that, but I was told by Helen this morning that my check was ready to be picked up, so I don’t know why we’re going through this now. I called LAST week about this.”
Della stormed off. A few minutes later, Helen handed me a check. “He finally got a moment to sign it.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Have a great afternoon,” Helen said.
This whole situation just angers me because there seems to be some deception from one, two, or all three of these people. I’m not convinced that a check was EVER issued for me. Especially since no one mentioned what to do if/when the original check shows up in my mailbox. Could there be some embezzling going on? It’s possible, but certainly Dr. Tooth would not be involved in that.
Della is either dishonest or was incompetent when she “forgot” to pay me the first time, and then somehow “lost” the check the second and third time. It shows compete lack of concern for employees that this situation was not resolved last week when I called about it. If a business DOES NOT care for their employees, then they certainly won’t care about their customers.
Helen said in the first voicemail that Della had been told about the situation and that a check had been sent. Parts of that situation surely must not be true. Was Helen lying? Or was Della dishonest to Helen? Della either didn’t know about the lost check in the first place, or she had no urgent concern regarding it. Either way, it seems fishy.
Dr. Tooth obviously didn’t feel any urgency in getting me a check when he saw me standing at his front desk. He had no intention of taking action when he told me he would. If he’d had the attitude of concern for someone who worked for him, he would have had a check ready for me BEFORE I arrived. But even if he didn’t have time that morning, once he saw me there, he should have made it a priority to take action.
It is all so frustrating, yet sadly not all that unusual. Having worked in dentistry most of my career, I’m qualified to report that the worst leaders/managers I’ve ever known have been in dentistry. That being said, I’m sure integrity and leadership are lacking in many businesses. In fact, I know it does.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though! There are tools that, when used, will ensure a greater chance of having team members and employees who not only CAN do the job (based on skills and experience), but who WILL do the job (based on emotional intelligence and personality traits). The tool I speak of, called Drake P3, can also ensure you secure a team member who will FIT your business culture.
Would you like to be a better, more successful leader?
Would you like to have employees or team members whom you can trust, and whom will treat your customers and clients in a professional, personable way?
What would it be like to go to work and know that your team will be effective, efficient and in harmony with each other?
Would you like a team where each member of the team does his/her job, and where individual strengths are used to lift the success of every team member?
It IS possible!
You don’t have to hate your team! and you don’t have to ever say, “People are the WORST!” when it comes to your team.
Tell me what you’d change about your current team……