A plea for scripted authenticity and kindness

by Polle on April 20, 2012

A friend of mine is the manager of a large cafe in the city centre of Utrecht (The Netherlands). Every morning he will serve his first customers a coffee. For free. Because he thinks (and knows) that people will remember small random acts and tell others.
But he’s the only one to give away free drinks. The rest of his staff never hands out free drinks because of people being early, nice, memorable or just for the sake of … well, because they can. Possibly because they’re conditioned by a previous manager that they can’t give away free drinks. Because free drinks are ;less cash in the register;. Or because ‘you just don’t do that’.
And that’s why my friend had to set a new rule. When you’re working in his restaurant, you HAVE to give away at least three drinks/bites during your shift and report to him. To (almost) force his staff to be kind. To break the staff’s belief that you ‘just don’t give away free drinks’.

That’s the basic idea behind scripted authenticity and kindness.

Changing traditional companies to suddenly act ’empathic’, ‘authentic’ or ‘kind’ is not easy. Inspiring them helps. But sometimes you just need traditional methods to ‘force’ human behavior.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

runebug April 22, 2012 at 00:08

Hmm. I love the basic idea, but I’m skeptical about scripting it.  Wouldn’t it be more effective and authentic if he simply told them to feel free to give a drink away once in a while? Right now I’m picturing the scene in Office Space where the waiter was told she has to have a minimum number of flair so that she could express herself. Making those kinds of things into rules takes away their authenticity.

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Stijn Remels April 24, 2012 at 08:47

I think the script makes the staff more comfortable in adopting this new behaviour. It sets clear boundaries for the staff. In their current mind set, it doesn’t feel good for them to give away things. Making it clear that giving away 3 drinks in a day is really OK for the Bossman, makes them more comfortable in doing it, which makes it more natural for them to do it. So I think it’s a good way to introduce this new behaviour to his staff. 

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