It isn’t personal, just business

Win liao lor, now your boss has more excuses to scold you.

The customer is always right, the old adage that has proven time and time again that stupid and inconsiderate people do live among us. If you’ve grown up working anywhere that requires you to work with customers you’d know how ridiculous some people can be, and yet you can’t point out the obvious by being equally discourteous or blatantly sarcastic so you suppress it and you smile and then you turn around and you take it out on your subordinate or junior staff.

Well that’s what a study done by Dr Sam Yam, assistant professor of management and organisation at NUS Business School concluded when he surveyed 184 employees and their supervisors in the United States. Why the tests weren’t done here we don’t know, maybe there’s a bias, maybe we’re just so much nicer.

His test proved that bosses and supervisors who had to do more “surface acting” were 1.34 times more likely to turn around and slap you in the face. Not literally, but these supervisors were less patient with their staff and more likely to snap. Staff were also required to rate their supervisors behaviours throughout the three weeks of tests.

I did this in national service, they gave us feedback forms telling us to rate our enciks and drill instructors, we knew this was a trick. We all passed and we booked out.

Dr Yam’s tests are in place so that service industries can better understand how to mitigate their service structures and make life and the job easier and less frustrating for their employees.

“Our findings are significant because they open the door to more intervention options,” said Dr Yam. “For instance, service organisations might want to reconsider how they encourage their staff to provide good service.”

“While forcing employees to smile and suppress other emotions might help a company’s image, such practices also risk compromising supervisor-staff relationships in the long run,” he said.

Tell that to the 7-11 uncle that works near my block.

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