Insights from the Front Line on Showing Up
By Robert De La Cruz, Analytics Senior Manager, Retail Services Customer Service May 28, 2014 11:49 AM
To celebrate the Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress, Robert De La Cruz (Analytics Senior Manager, Retail Services Customer Service) shares insights from his first job.
Looking back on my first job, the one piece of advice I wish I had was to show up. This may come as a surprise, but at the time it was a meaningful lesson and today I encourage colleagues to learn from my experiences.
At the age of 21, I took a position as a reservation agent at an airlines call center in Fort Worth, Texas. I have always been a social person, so I was attracted to the job because it allowed me to interact with customers on a daily basis. I also proved to be efficient with the reservation system, allowing me to service customers quickly and effectively.
While I did excel in some areas, there was definitely room for growth - I was often late, I didn't follow the dress code and I took too many breaks during the day. After six months on the job, I was called to the office of the site director. I remember thinking "why is someone so senior asking to speak with me?" It turned out she was about to fire me. She said that she had heard great things about how I helped customers, but - and it was a big but - I needed to get to work or she would personally terminate me.
Rather than becoming discouraged, I was inspired by this conversation. What really struck me was that she said she saw my potential. The fact that someone so high in the organization believed in me was a real wakeup call and served as a turning point - not only in my first job but in my career.
In my role today, I support Retail Services Customer Service Performance Optimization activities. As a manager, I try my best to get to know the employees, especially those who interact with customers, as their responsibilities remind me of the role I had in my first job. I like to tell them this story and encourage them to show up, be engaged, offer suggestions and stay positive.
I have found that in the end, it's all about making sure you are displaying leadership qualities - being engaged, helping employees through coaching and finding solutions. It's important to remember that as managers we represent our company values and as front-line employees we represent Citi.