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How to Lessen the Frustration of Workplace Incompetence

Updated on November 10, 2019
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor, advocates for life with maximum productivity and minimal amount of stress in the workplace.

“How did they even get hired?” “How come they haven’t been fired?”

These questions are often asked by consumers on the opposite end of the employees’ incompetence. Truth is, most workers who render ineffective service have the potential to excel at their jobs.

Incompetence is often the result of carelessness, exhaustion, distraction and even boredom. In our computer age, much of it is caused by the lack of conscious brain involvement.

  • The accountant clicks the symbol on the Excel spreadsheet to display the sum total, without ensuring that his input is correct.
  • The secretary prints the standard letter without entering the specific customer information.
  • The processor rejects an application without noticing that the applicant left black spaces because he was exempt from answering those questions.

To lessen frustrations concerning silly mistakes that could delay our business, there are four steps we can take, whenever possible.

Photo Credit: Tomwsulcer
Photo Credit: Tomwsulcer | Source

1. Conduct Business in Person

We all welcome the opportunity to save time. However, the more serious the transaction, the more risks are involved when we use the fast, easy, electronic method and our documents fall into the hands of someone who reads incorrectly or does not always read. When we sit across the desk from the officer, we make him pay attention by emphasizing the results we want, and by insisting on accuracy.

An eighty-year old woman applied for a passport. Her application was returned with a request for pictured identification of her mother and father. That processor might have been too sleepy to notice the applicant’s age. Sometimes it takes a real face with a real voice to make the employee fully aware that he is dealing with people; not just with forms and machines.

Business Method Poll

How do you conduct most of your business?

See results
Photo Credit: Rharel1
Photo Credit: Rharel1 | Source

2. Recognize That the Employee Is Human

They get tired and distracted. Sure, they are supposed to be alert, but doesn't everybody slip once in a while?

A woman walks up to the information desk and introduces herself. “Hi, I’m Racquel.” The receptionist responds, “Hi Racquel, may I ask your name?”

After repeating the same routine over and over, the receptionist begins to feel like a robot. Then she begins to act like one.

Laugh with her, not at her, when she realizes her mistake. Compliment her on her ability to keep her cool despite the stresses that come with the job. She will feel obligated to help you. If she refers you to someone else, maintain the same attitude of compromise. Know that the worker is not infallible, and that compassion (especially coupled with patience) goes a long way in securing quality service.

3. Make Suggestions

Most businesses ask for suggestions evaluations because they honestly want to render quality products and service. If you suspect that your note in the suggestion box will not be read, talk to the manager. Adopt an attitude of concern whether you write or talk, and let her know how you and other customers are affected.

Two employees worked in a little pastry shop. Whichever one was free took the order, then took the money from the customer, put the money in the register and headed toward the pastry. They did not always wash their hands. Surprisingly, most people did not complain but one woman talked with the owner.

In response to her suggestion, the owner made it mandatory for one employee to handle the money, while the other put on gloves and bag the pastries. One customer's request benefited the entire clientele.

Suggestion Box Poll

What do think happens when you place a suggestion in the box?

See results

4. Appreciate Good Service

Even in the businesses where customer service is sloppy, there may be an occasional breakthrough of customer satisfaction. Why not encourage that worker with a complimentary remark, an intentional vote of thanks, or a note to the employer? Some businesses have surveys soliciting evaluations. Never underestimate the effect of a kind commendation.

There are no excuses for poor performance in the workplace, but it happens. We share the responsibility to avoid becoming victims of employees' mistakes.

Following are a few quotes for both the customer and customer service representative.

Helpful Workplace Quotes to Boost Optimism

For the Customer
For the Customer Service Representative
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." —Mahatma Gandhi
"Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They'll just walk away.” ― Marilyn Suttl
"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." —Maya Angelou
“How you think about your customers influences how you respond to them.” ― Marilyn Suttle
In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you." —Deepak Chopra
“Your customers are responsible for your company’s reason for existing.” ― Marilyn Suttle
"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind." - William James, Psychologist
"If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person." —Bill Clinton
"If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles. "
"Unless you have 100% customer satisfaction . . . you must improve."

© 2011 Dora Weithers


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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      4 years ago

      You're welcome.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Robert, glad that you agree with this information on dealing with workplace incompetence. Thanks for your comment.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      4 years ago

      Thank you. This is great information to know and remember.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Ann, thanks for your feedback. Thanks God for the workers who helps us maintain faith in the system.

    • Ann810 profile image


      4 years ago from Sunny Cali

      Informative article. There are people that are conscience of professionalism and customer care in the workplace, when it come to customer satisfaction.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      7 years ago from The Caribbean

      Peg, thank you for your input. The store manager has not realized how much respect you would have had for him and his store had he taken your very useful suggestion. His loss!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from North Dallas, Texas

      I like your real world examples of how incompetence enters the workforce and how to remedy the effect. The hand washing example really drives home the point of how small things can ruin our business if we're not paying close attention to our customers or to their suggestions.

      One time, I pulled the manager of Walmart aside and asked if they could tag the electric shopping carts as to the time they've been on the charger. Mom was stranded several times in the middle of the store when the battery ran down. I never saw this suggestion implemented and the carts continue to fail leaving shoppers disappointed and frustrated.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      7 years ago from The Caribbean

      Arun, good to see you. Thanks for your kind comments.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image


      7 years ago from KOLKATA

      Very good hub with excellent suggestions to improve workplace competence. Thank you very much.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      7 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Ologsinquito, for your very wise input.

    • ologsinquito profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Excellent advice. We need to remember to treat everyone kindly, no matter the situation, and to try to see things from someone else's perspective.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      8 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, jpcmc, for your input. You give very sound advice for all of us to follow.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      8 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Improving one's performance is always a daily endeavor. We must out do ourselves and learn from our mistakes. the problem starts when people do not care about their perforamnce. This will affect not just their productivity but the entire company.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      10 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Great suggestions for helping overcome issues in the workplace! I appreciate you understanding the frustrations of employees who may be burned out or not paying attention due to the repetitive nature of their jobs. It cane happen to anyone.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      10 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Eunette. Stressing less is a commendable goal for all of us.

      Thanks again, Marlo. I appreciate you.

    • MarloByDesign profile image


      10 years ago from United States

      MsDora, you are most welcome...and yes, I consider your Hub VERY useful and unique. Also rated it 'awesome'.

    • Eunette Warner profile image

      Eunette Warner 

      10 years ago

      Thanks, Ms Dora for making this hub so real. I have been a victim of unfriendly customer service on several occasions. I will try harder to empathise more and stress less over things I have little or no control over.I guess every human being has challenges to overcome. Keep up the good work.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      10 years ago from The Caribbean

      MarloByDesign, thanks for making my day! Happy to write something considered useful by someone else.

    • MarloByDesign profile image


      10 years ago from United States

      Excellent Hub!!!!! I rated it "useful" and "interesting" - thanks so much for writing this. Voted this "up" as well.


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