What is the True Cost of Personal and Professional Development in the Workplace?

I recently learned that a certain large retailer was cutting professional development from outside sources. And this kinda saddened me, as I have always been a big fan of this retailer.

Is it good to slash prices and cut development corners? In a moment, I am going to show you some math that will blow your mind: the cost of keeping professional development versus cutting it. Employee development is an easy cut when you are trying to brighten the bottom line; but does it really pay?

One of the objectives in our organization is to brighten the bottom line by improving the people who provide services and distribute products. But, along the way, the distributor or representative of the service or product can diminish the bottom line so much that we miss it, if those team members are not developed and nurtured. Most organizations do miss out, if this area is cut. A lack of employee development is what I refer to as “the invisible bottom feeder of bottom lines.”

I am about to share with you a simple story of what happens when the invisible bottom feeder of bottom lines attacks. I truly think that if the owner of this retailer was alive, he would nip this in the bud. He cared about people and was passionate about his business. That is the spirit of a successful entrepreneur. I think if he caught wind of the story I am about to share, it might actually cause him to do a flip in his grave. You be the judge.

I walked into this retailer recently with $500 cash and the sole purpose of buying a new TV for the house. However, when I inquired about an open-box item to get a lesser price, I had to wait for 25 minutes for a manager to approve it. I was fine either way. If I got the discount, great! If I didn’t, that’s okay, I still wanted a TV for the house.

I waited with a sales associate for 25 minutes who could have been productive with the time, but instead waited on a “bad attitude” manager to show up. How did I know it was a bad attitude manager? The same way you would. We all know when we are being treated with a bad attitude or a positive one. Instead of saying, “Hi,” or greeting me with a smile or, “How can I help you?” I got, “What seems to be the problem?” in an ornery tone.

The sales associate said, “There is no problem. This gentleman wants to buy a TV, and wanted to see if he could get a little bit off this open box item?”

The manager responded with an immediate, “No, it’s been discounted. No!” And proceeded to walk away.

As a customer, even if this was the store policy, I don’t like being treated as if there is no empathy for my side, no interest in hearing me out.

As a fan of this retailer, and one of the top leading experts on professional development in the country, I notice when employees do not practice positive attitudes in action. I channeled the founder of this store and stopped that dude in his tracks. I began gently to address his performance with me, a customer. He did not take kindly to my positive instruction that would have made him look good, his company great, and his bottom line improved. And I didn’t even charge him for the wisdom. I am not cheap one bit!

Did I buy the TV at this store? No way! I have a philosophy that says I don’t give my money to people who treat me poorly. They didn’t earn it, they didn’t deserve it, and so I went somewhere else and even paid more for someone who treated me with respect, as if I am important. (You get my vibe?)

Now, the number #1 excuse from organizations that have situations like this, “Sir, it is a one-time isolated incident.”

Since I don’t buy BS or lies, I disagree. The manager who treated me poorly may be having a tough day, or maybe he didn’t understand good customer relations. It doesn’t mean he is a bad guy, but just that he doesn’t grasp that a bad attitude put into action in the game of business will eat the bottom line.

Let’s do the math. This is a story that the main organization was not made aware of. Lack of awareness is the killer of profits. Let me explain. It is hard to track every “one time isolated incident;” but what if in reality it was just a one-time thing? What if this manager treated one customer this poorly, every day for one year. Let’s do the math:

Customer with a budget of $500.

A negative manager who treats customer with $500 poorly.

Customer chooses to go next door to a local competitor to spend $500, instead of being treated poorly.

X 365 days.

= $182,500 in lost business and sales.

As you can see, attitude plays a huge role in the bottom line. However, when you don’t treat it as such, then the deficit adds up.

Now, let’s take this math problem even further.

This retailer employs thousands of people. But, let’s say for only example purposes, that 100 people out of thousand treated a customer badly every day for a year.  Here is the math:

100 customers with a budget of $500

100 bad attitude employees

X 365 days

= $18,250,000

It costs the company MILLONS! And this is a conservative number based on only 100 negative people. A negative person in the workplace is defined as someone who:

a. Doesn’t care much

b. Just wants a paycheck

c. Is not really engaged

d. Badmouths the company

e. Complains all the time

f. Doesn’t take initiative, has to be told what to do.

g. Doesn’t care about consequences to attitude and actions.

h. Believes they don’t get paid enough for what they do.

i. Treats customers from mediocre to bad.

j. Lacks passion and enthusiasm for what they are doing.

And I am sure we could go on, but these are elements of a negative person in the workplace.

Think about it, how much is this costing your company? Hmmm?

Most organizations overlook this one invisible aspect of how the bottom line is affected, because it is deemed immeasurable. That is not true. We just did the numbers. In a tough economy, it is wise to invest in professional development that STICKS or STINKS?

So, if the founder of this retailer were to look at these numbers, what do you think he might say? Do?

Think about what “one” negative attitude is costing your company.  Is it worth it to invest in something that kills the invisible bottom feeder of bottom lines? Just ask successful organizations that invest in their people in the right way. It is that simple; however, I am to think that someone somewhere along the way complicated this great simplicity. Want a better bottom line? The solution is simple.

How can you provide better service today?

1 thought on “What is the True Cost of Personal and Professional Development in the Workplace?”

  1. Great blog, Sam! Thanks for showing us the true dollars & cents of a negative attitude.

    If I’m treated rudely, I call them on it, but talking to someone in management~something my parents taught me and something I’m a real stickler about-giving great customer service!

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