Monthly Archives: April 2011

Work or worship?

Few days back, I happened to go to a prayer hall, Yogi Sabha Griha, in Dadar-East, Mumbai. It is a community hall and is used for many condolence prayers etc. Before we enter the hall, there is an arrangement to keep our shoes while we visit inside to participate in the prayer. Some 4-5 people are present to man this shoe keeping setup. The young boys there would give us an empty carry bag to keep our shoes. We should remove our shoes and stuff them inside that bag and hand it over to them. They would keep the bag and give a token with a number on it. When we return, we are asked for the token given to us. After getting the numbered token from us, they will find out the bag with our shoes and give it to us.

The arrangement sounds simple and works fine. Well, almost. I observed those boys closely and found that they ensured that accidentally also they did not touch the shoes which were wrapped inside the bag given to them. Their disliking for the activity which they were doing was obvious. In fact, the body language and the expressions on their faces spoke loudly that they actually hated this dirty job of picking bags full of people’s shoes….

That reminded me of another such experience few years back at Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. There also there is a similar arrangement for keeping the shoes of the visitors temporarily. During our stay in Amritsar, we visited the Golden Temple thrice, all at different times of the day. At all the three occasions, we found that the attendants there handled the shoes of the visitors with utmost care and respect. (Yes, RESPECT.)  They took the shoes from the visitors in their own hands and kept them carefully in the racks and gave the token. It was found that the people manning those shoe racks were not employees. They were the devotees volunteering their time. And they were all decent people. In the late evening, we found some working professionals, who has returned from their work places and then were giving their time for this service, all because of love and devotion.

Both the activities were outwardly similar, but there is a huge difference of attitude evident in both. The Golden Temple volunteers were the worshipers who treated this small activity also as an act of worship towards their revered Guru. They did not think it was a petty job. They did not find the task of picking people’s shoes dirty or disgusting. They loved their work, because it was worship for them. They were fully involved and engaged in the activity.

On the other hand, for the boys at the Dadar prayer hall, it was just a job. A work to fill some hours and get some money at the end of the day. It was no worship. It was no love.

The attitudes of both these sets of people rubbed on the visitors at both the sites. At Golden Temple, one feels respected, welcomed, loved, wanted and cared. At Dadar prayer hall, one feels hated, unwelcome, unwanted and a burden on somebody’s time.

This made me thinking. Our employees’ attitude towards their work also makes our customers feel good or bad. What is their attitude? Do they love their work, just like the volunteers at Golden Temple or they resent their work like the boys at Yogi Sabha Griha? Their attitude shapes the customers’ experience.

And customer’s experience shapes the future of our business.
So, we need to ensure that our employees are positively involved in their work to an extent that they find it like worship.

Otherwise, they will resent picking the shoe bags and making the customers feel unwanted.