As our taxi pulled up at a New York City hotel last week, a man with a wide smile rushed out to greet us. "Hello, hello!" he said. "Welcome! My name is Herman, and I am here to help." As he grabbed our bags and chatted with us, I couldn't help thinking to myself, "What a great attitude! They are lucky to have such an employee."
But as we busied ourselves with check-in, Herman put tags on our bags. "No! No! No!" shouted a supervisor. "These ladies aren't with the large group. You tagged their bags wrong." Herman seemed puzzled, but he removed the tags and put on different ones. "No! No! No!" shouted the supervisor again. "They shouldn't be tagged at all!" Herman was still confused, but he removed the tags. "Move them! They go over here!" This went on for a couple of minutes. Herman was clearly trying, but the supervisor's attitude was rattling him.
We guessed that it was Herman's first day, and we hoped things got better for him. We didn't see him again for the next four days and worried that he might have been fired.
He hadn't been. As we were picking up our stored luggage before going to the airport, we were happy to see Herman again. However, the wide smile was gone. The cheerful demeanor was gone. The warmth was gone. Looking down at the floor, he simply asked us for our luggage tags, went to get the bags, and delivered them, doing his job. Period.
The supervisor had taken what was special about Herman and squashed it, changing him from a man that made you happy to see him to a man who just did his job, quietly, invisibly.
Okay, maybe what the hotel needed most was someone who could quietly jump through the hoops and get those darned tags right. But maybe they missed an opportunity to help a guy with something special do even more.
Yelling at people takes its toll.