When Protocol Takes Over

Thanks to a very unusual delay on Singapore Airlines’ part, I was facing a 6 hour wait at Heathrow Airport. With the ‘We have it so good‘ realizations of late, I was pretty pleased with my own response to the situation. No ‘playing victim’, no tantrums – my energy was focused on finding a place to work out of. Thanks to poor infrastructure, the only place to work out of was outside the ‘EAT.’ cafe. So, I got myself a customary snack and settled on my temporary workstation. 

An hour later, I had an employee request me to leave as they were shutting down. I requested him to let me continue to browse as there is no real fence or barricade separating the cafe seating and the rest of the sitting area and I explained to him that I would jump back in as soon as he was gone anyway. He relented, unhappily. 
Soon, I had another of his colleagues come and say ‘Sir, we’re closing. Please..’. As I was on a Skype call then, I decided to move out. They did their 30 minutes or so of cleaning and left the place. 
And of course, I was back right after they left. 
Protocol had taken over. They had done their duty, ticked their check lists and had gone home. They didn’t really care that the procedure was brain dead in the first place. 
I learnt a few things here –
– Empowerment is extremely important in the hospitality industry. Blind adherence to protocol doesn’t help at all. EAT. lost a lot more than it could possibly have gained from their response to the situation. 
– When you have something, share it. EAT. could have earned a lot of goodwill today by just allowing all passengers boarding the delayed flight to access their ‘desk’ area. Protocol ruined it for them. 
– It’s important to pick your battles. I’m glad I retreated when the 2nd employee asked me to move. I could have been stubborn (I have been in the past, often..) and then spoken to their superiors etc etc but I would have just lost both my energy and my happiness. Not worth it. 
– Technology gives us a tremendous amount of control over our productivity. Thanks to a smartphone and tethered internet, I’m just ploughing through my weekend task list as if nothing happened. It’s amazing how far we have come. 
And thank god we have the power to choose our response to situations that life throws at us. Being human has some really amazing advantages..