I would like to share a situation that another listener is facing. I imagine there are many of you who have similar questions.
This listener’s company is very production oriented, and they have strict guidelines about working quickly, taking many calls, handling questions fast, and getting off the phone in order to take more calls. The number and length of their calls are monitored and reported, and much pressure is applied to work very fast.
She felt that in doing this, she was forced to treat callers somewhat abruptly, not really helping them like she should, and this was quite frustrating to her. But her management was not impressed with her desire to answer each call completely and thoroughly; their only interest was productivity.
I think there are many situations where we feel our company is not running the business in the most customer-oriented way, and we’d like to do it better, but the guidelines get in our way. What should be a Christian’s response? Do it the way we think it should be done, or follow instructions?
Well, I think that as long as the instructions you’re given are not dishonest or illegal, your responsibility is to obey those in authority. After all, management has the right to run the company as they please, even if they choose to run it in the ground. Unfortunately many companies operate without a real customer orientation.
I believe strongly that every organization reflects the attitudes and philosophy of the person at the top. And if the person at the top of your company chooses productivity over quality, that’s the way it’s going to be. Obviously, that is symptomatic of not only a lack of human care and concern, but also lack of good business sense. Eventually poor quality and inadequate customer service will ruin a business.
As Christians in the marketplace, we should try to treat all people, including customers, with care. Not only is your customer the person who pays your salary, they are also people created and loved by God, individuals who are important. And for those reasons, it’s imperative that we do our best to give them good service. When that is in conflict with company policy, you should look for opportunities to try to change the system, if possible. But I recognize it isn’t always that easy to do.
No one said it would be easy, but living for Jesus in the marketplace gives us incredible opportunities to show the world His love and care. So, don’t get discouraged; keep praying for guidance and God will give you strength.
Here is another real-life business issue that some of you have faced. You’re in sales and your manager has asked you to talk only about the good aspects of a product and ignore, or seriously downplay the negatives. You feel uncomfortable because this seems so close to lying. What do you do?
My career began in sales, so I understand the dilemma. One thing to remember is that all products have their strengths and weaknesses. The sales job is to emphasize the benefits of the strengths and overcome the objections to the weaknesses. That is marketing, and done correctly, it is not dishonest.
Hopefully you have a product which you believe in and which you can honestly sell as a benefit to your customers. If that is not the case and instead you feel you have an inferior product which is misleading and/or faulty, then you have to decide if you’re working for the right company. A prerequisite for a Christian in sales, in my opinion, is to have a product or service which does bring benefits to your customers.
While your "sales pitch" does not have to include the negatives, you must be prepared, as a good sales person and more importantly, as an honest one, to discuss your product deficiencies. If the prospect asks questions that expose those deficiencies, you should be very honest about it. In no way would it be right for you to deny or cover-up the weaknesses of your product deliberately.
Of course, you should be prepared to offset the deficiency with a benefit. This is the skill of selling; it’s called "Handling Objections," and good sales people learn how to do that. But as a Christian, you should never do that at the cost of honesty.
If you feel that you are being asked to do something which is dishonest and it bothers your conscience, then you need to take action. Romans 14 is a good chapter to guide you in this. Verse 14 tells us that if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. And verse 23 says the person who partakes of something which he thinks is wrong is condemned, because he is not acting in faith.
Give it prayer, and if it continues to bother you, God will show you what action to take. Don’t go against your conscience. You’ll be miserable, and you won’t be able to sell very well, either.
Frequently in the workplace we run into situations where we’re not sure what is the right thing for us to do. Here’s one such situation.
A woman worked in a sales office where there was an 800 number for business calls only. Practically everyone in the office used it for long-distance, personal calls. She felt they were cheating the company. Was it her responsibility to tell her supervisor or should she keep quiet?
The question gets right to the core of a very common problem in American business today: employee theft. There is a staggering amount of stealing from employers among people who would never consider themselves thieves or dishonest. Certainly Christians in the marketplace need to set the highest standards of integrity for their own lives in this regard.
Most employers understand that it is sometimes necessary for employees to conduct personal business during company hours, as long as that privilege is not abused. However, many of us violate those privileges and use company equipment and time for excessive personal purposes, which could and should be done after-hours and at our own expense.
In this situation, if the company has never established clear guidelines or rules for the use of the 800 number, they are inviting this kind of abuse, and they may even be choosing to ignore it. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that management uses the 800 number for personal calls also, and may not want to "rock the boat" for their own selfish reasons.
Whether a policy to control the use of the 800 number has been established or not, this is a management issue. They are either choosing to ignore it or failing in their responsibility to put a policy in place and/or enforce it. In any case, I seriously doubt that they are unaware of this situation.
I don’t think I would call this to management’s attention. In my opinion, this is not a case where you need to take a stand against evil, nor is it a compromise of your testimony to keep quiet in this situation. Any action to right this wrong could be be easily perceived as "tattling" on co-workers.
However if this woman is in a position to help recommend or establish policies, she may be able to suggest appropriate guidelines for the 800 number without appearing to be a tattler. Otherwise, I would advise her to keep quiet and make it a matter of prayer. I believe that would be in line with Jesus’ admonition to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).