October 1, 2023

Richardson Column in The Free Lance-Star

UMW College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson

UMW College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson

College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson’s weekly column in The Free Lance-Star focuses on the value of treating each person in an organization with respect. Read SHOW RESPECT FOR ALL.

I love this story.

Walt Bettinger, CEO of San Francisco-based Charles Schwab, occasionally takes job candidates out for breakfast as part of the interview process. He arrives early and takes the manager aside, asking him to have the waiter mess up the candidate’s order. He assures the manager that he will leave the waiter a good tip, but he definitely wants the restaurant to get the order wrong!

Why, you might ask, does Mr. Bettinger do this? He wants to see how the candidate reacts to the situation. Is the candidate understanding or does he get angry or frustrated? The CEO believes it helps him determine how the candidate will deal with adversity if hired by Schwab—and we know there will be situations that don’t go the way we want in business.

This reminded me of other stories I’ve heard from people I know. We all know gatekeepers. These are the people, with various titles in an organization, who determine the flow of information among employees. Many times these are front line people with titles like receptionist or administrative assistant.

Let’s say I’m in sales and approach the receptionist at the front desk. I have an appointment with the purchasing agent and am here to check in. But I choose to be rude to the staff member, treating her with disdain and acting as if she’s not important. How long do you think I will have to wait before she lets the purchasing agent know I am waiting? Probably longer than I want. She’s got the power! Read more.