27 November 2015. On Friday evening, an Uber driver was involved in a scuffle with a Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement officer. The scuffle which was recorded and uploaded on Facebook by the passenger who had booked the Uber driver went viral.
Almost immediately, the LTA began to distance itself from its officer. A statement was issued within an hour or so saying that the LTA takes a serious view of the incident and will not condone any acts of violence by its officers or outsourced officers. LTA added that the enforcement officer has been suspended from all duties with immediate effect pending further investigations.
Subsequently, LTA issued a statement the next day (28 November 2015) saying that it had has concluded its investigation into the incident and that the Police is currently investigating the case. LTA added that the officer is likely to be terminated upon the completion of the Police’s investigations.
In a crisis scenario, management needs to address the concerns of multiple stakeholders. While the customer is an important stakeholder, the employee is also equally important. How an organization treats its employee in a crisis speaks as much of their own values as how they treat the complainant. If employees believe that management will always side with the customer, poor employee morale will be the result.
In scenarios like this, employees want to know that they will be treated fairly. If they are wrong, they can expect to be disciplined. But if they are not, they expect the company to stand behind them. In this instance, LTA's quick effort to distance themselves from the incident is poor for the morale of all LTA enforcement officers. Instead, LTA would have done better to be seen punishing the act and not the man. In fact, a by-stander has come forward to support the enforcement officer saying that the Uber driver had provoked the officer.
At CW Fong & Associates we do not believe that the customer is always right. Organizations that want to manage a crisis well, need to understand that their employee is an important stakeholder.