OAS Representative – Starret Greene
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
April 03, 2012 (CUOPM)
The St. Kitts and Nevis based representative for the Organisation of American States (OAS), Mr. Starret Greene is of the view that there is no room for complacency among workers in this globalized, competitive and increasingly complex market place, where the freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people is the norm.
“There is no tolerance for poor attitudes and questionable behaviors in the workplace. A dress code that comports with established standards is the norm. Good communication skills and team work is the rule and not the exception. Performance, quality output and productivity are now the basis upon which you will be evaluated for promotion ““ not on the basis of your connections or mere seniority,” Mr. Greene told 24 Graduates of an 8-week 8th Annual Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) Basic Training Course for junior Customs Officers from St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.
He invited the guests, the graduate, senior and junior customs officers as well as their parents and businesses leaders present to think of the workplace as part of a vast market place of intense human activity, where individuals of all walks of life converge to do business.
“In this common space where persons interact freely, two distinct groups emerge. First, there are those who provide a service ““ namely service providers, and second, those who are the buyers of services ““ namely clients or customers. What is so fascinating about this environment? Well, if you just stand aside and look and listen carefully, you will observe that a few people are bargaining, others are negotiating deals, some are engaged in buying and selling of a variety of goods and services and there are those who are moving from one business to another, in order to find a particular product or looking for the best deal they can get. Trading is brisk. Thousands of transactions are taking place,” he said.
Mr. Greene continued: “What else can you see? If you look with greater care, you will also notice that some businesses are crowded and others where there is no traffic whatsoever. What accounts for these differences you may ask? Well, let us first look at those businesses, government ministries, associated agencies and organizations where there is no activity whatsoever. What do we find? We observe that the superstructure is just as good as the other surrounding entities. The prices of the goods in stock, their quality and brand are the same as their competitors. However, a closer look at the persons behind the counters or sitting at their desks reveals that they are not smiling. Their countenances look somewhat unpleasant. Others seemed overcome with boredom while a few are nodding for lack of sleep. They are obviously tired. Moreover, the way the workers are attired leaves much to be desired, and their appearance in general seems not to be suited for the workplace.
Their manner of speaking to customers or clients lacks politeness. If you listen carefully, you will hear some of these workers openly arguing with customers. In addition, some are using their time on the job to talk on their cell phones and others are busy texting on their blackberries, while some are on their computers looking at U-TUBE or playing computer games. What is more, some workers are seen to have abandoned their stations and are noticed to have gathered around the water cooler having a conversation, while customers wait impatiently in line to be served. In addition, the phones occasionally ring, but no one bothers to answer. In summary, our observation reveals a pattern of behaviors that suggest that employees are unprepared to function in a modern and sophisticated labor market and they are not ready to operate in the complex world of business. It is not a very encouraging picture.”
He pointed out that for these businesses, that is, those where there is no traffic, the outcome of the evaluation is as follows:
“Sales are down, profits have been plunged into negative territory, inventories are not moving, their cash flow has dried up, customers are leaving in droves, their creditors are calling, bank managers have requested an urgent meeting with management, workers are being laid off, the lights are finally turned off and a sign which reads “˜Sorry we’re closed”˜ is placed on a locked door. With all these businesses failing, the downturn in the local economy worsens, as Government tax revenues decrease. An economic recession has been triggered.”
The OAS Representative then took a careful look at the crowded businesses and establishments to include Government offices, agencies and other organizations that serve the public at large.
“The shelves are well stocked with a variety of goods and employees are busy carrying out their assigned tasks. As you enter these businesses and establishments, there is an air of freshness and everything looks clean and tidy. Signs that are clearly marked are placed at strategic points so that customers can easily find what they need. But when you look more closely, the workers are neatly dressed and properly groomed. The smiles on their faces appear genuine, and they are greeting each customer upon entry. What is more, they seemed all motivated and excited about being at work. Their actions and their attitude speak to how happy and how grateful they are to have a job. In summary, we observed a culture of professionalism and a culture where each employee understands the principles and fundamentals of what makes a business or an organization or a Government agency survives in a competitive environment. There is a spirit of cooperation and collaboration that is everywhere.”
“In these businesses and establishments, there is also a chorus of voices of workers asking questions such as “˜Can I help you?’ “Are you finding what you need?” “˜Can I make a suggestion?’ “˜Would you like me to show you a similar item?’ “˜Can I introduce you to another of our services?’ “˜I know of someone who can help you.’ There are no long lines of people waiting to be served. Customers looked satisfied and their experience of doing business seemed fruitful and rewarding,” said Mr. Greene.
“For these businesses, sales are up, targets have been surpassed, suppliers are delivering their goods on time, inventories are exactly where they should be, plenty of cash is in the bank, profits are climbing, shareholders are pleased with their quarterly dividends, workers are paid quarterly bonuses, new employees are brought on board as expansion and innovation takes place. Government tax revenues are increasing and the local economy is booming.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, here is the question that I am compelled to ask you this afternoon. Which of these two scenarios best fit you and the environment in which you now work?,” the OAS official said.
Mr. Greene contended that excellent customer service should be the highest aim.
“Striving to protect the company’s interest, working for the good of the Government regardless of your party affiliation, and committing yourself to serve in the best interest of your country are the ideals to which you should aspire. Self improvement in terms of sharpening your skills and knowledge should be an ongoing endeavor,” said Mr. Greene, who exhorted the graduates that as they return to their workstations to discharge their assigned duties, to let professionalism be their guide.
“By this I mean, take pride in yourself and in your work; remain resolute and purposeful; be organized; show fortitude under pressure; refuse no opportunity for developing your knowledge and mind; show strength of character and will; exercise self-control at all times; let integrity be your moral compass; be sociable at the right time and under the right circumstances; strive to be a person of distinction; always be accountable and responsible; be loyal to those persons and ideals you wish to defend; show impartiality in the discharge of your responsibilities at all times; serve faithfully and always show good manners,” said Mr. Greene, who represents the Washington-based Western Hemispheric organisation.
“If you endeavor to do these things, not only will you emerge as an exemplary Custom Officer, but also you will acquire the power to change your workplace, your country, your region and yes the world,” Mr. Greene concluded.