Workplace Respect and Dedication: We Need More Ricky’s!

Christine Johnson on
How this shoe is a sign of workplace respect

This is a follow up to our last blog on lack of respect in the workplace.  Since much of what we hear every day is negative, I wanted to share a positive employee respect story.  If you have your own story of how your co-workers show workplace respect and dedication, email us.

The introduction

Ricky is a shoeshine and shoe repair employee a men’s shoe store.  He works at a store located in a beautiful historic hotel in a metropolitan city.  His story is legendary, but not often told. He is a dedicated rock star of an employee who works for a company that stands by their values. Dedication to excellence.  Heritage close to its roots.  Trust employee to make the right decision.

Here is Ricky’s story.

A businessman was having a bad week.  He saw Ricky by his shoe shine stand.  Since the shoe store prides itself on recrafting shoes, a shoe shine stand only made sense.  For this businessman, having his shoes shined was treat that he needed on that day.  Ricky greeted him with a smile and went to work on his shoes.  Shine and buff.  Shine and buff.  And repeat until the shoes no longer had scuff marks – nearly looking new.

The businessman struck up a conversation with Ricky about the art of shoe shining and described one of his favorite pairs of leather shoes that were scuffed so bad he wanted to buy a new pair, but the shoe store no longer sold them.

“Can take a look at them?” Ricky asked him.

Can it be fixed?

The businessman pulled out shoes that looked like they had been used in a rainy-day baseball game and then left out in the sun on the back porch to try.  (Okay, I may be exaggerating a little, but you get my visual.)  Ricky was convinced that he could make them look better.  Much better in a few hours.  When a salesperson approached to see if the businessman wanted a new pair of shoes, Ricky explained what he was doing. The sales person stopped pursuing the sale and stepped back. He respected Ricky’s craftsmanship skills.

The businessman left the shoes with Ricky.

A few hours later, he came back to inquire about Ricky’s success.  Ricky’s dedication for excellence would not allow him to return a pair of shoes not up to the company’s standard so he asked for more time. The businessman gave him the time, but began to speculate what the shoes might look like.  He was questioning if his shoes could be redone.

The outcome

When the businessman came back for his shoes, Ricky stood proudly with the pair of shoes that looked better than new.  Ricky quickly walked through the process he used to recraft the shoes.  The businessman stood in awe.  He expected his shoes to look better, but not like this.  He hoped Ricky would do a good job, but not like this.  With a handshake and a big tip that shoe store gained a lifelong, loyal fan even though he did not buy any shoes.  And that was okay.  Because at the end of the day, Ricky and the shoe salesperson lived the company’s core values and respected each other’s area of expertise.

How many of us have Ricky’s in our lives?  Someone who represented their company, respected their co-workers and their position so well that it turned us into raving fans.  Kudos Ricky for having the skills and tenacity to succeed. Kudos to his co-worker who knew when not to take action. And kudos to his employer for having the foundation that allowed both handle the situation on their own.

Whether you are a customer, co-worker, or employer, we can all use more Ricky’s in our lives.

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