Lesson 010: Who dictates task assignment to staff?
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 4/24 ('The Mind's Eye')


In order to prevent the Klingon empire from exploding into a civil war, Worf sacrifices his reputation and honor by accepting Discommendation, a title, while untrue of his deeds, bears the sign of the pariah and is recognized within the Klingon culture to reflect dishonor and disgrace.

When a Klingon High Counsel Emissary arrives on the Enterprise on route to resolve a war situation for the Klingon Empire, Capt. Picard assigns Worf to assist the Emissary.

The Emissary immediately requests another assistant because of Worf's Discommendation. Capt. Picard declines the Emissary's request and states that, while he understands the reason behind the Emissary's request, as the Chief of Security on board the Enterprise, Worf is the best suited for the assignment and insists on not changing the assignment.

The Emissary complies with the Captain's orders.


The question raised here is, where to draw the line in business between the company assigning personnel resources and letting the client dictate the selection. This is one of those times where perhaps the maxim 'The Customer Is Always Right' may not be the best rule to follow.

From the company's view, we always want our customers to be satisfied with our service. However, to meet that goal we cannot sacrifice our business goals or the loyalty and trust of our employees.

As ridiculous as it may sound today in the 21st century, there are still people in our world who will proudly and loudly exclaim they do not want a female assigned to their account; 'Put a man on the job!' is their usual male, ape-like chest beating chant. Should we simply comply?

What if a client objects to having a person assigned to them who has a past criminal record? Do we simply remove the person from the account, even if they have done nothing wrong on the job and only excelled in performance? By this account, shouldn't every CEO found guilty of any wrong doing be shunned from any future employment altogether?

It is always the responsibility and duty of management (and actually everyone), to fight these types of prejudices, wherever and whenever, we may encounter them.

We just need to ensure that the personnel we assign to customers are adept at serving the customer properly.

Unfortunately, if by not giving in to the client demand can cause the loss of the client and thereby, severely damage or even sink the company, we must be realistic and have to accept the fact that sometimes it is the lesser of two evils to just comply with clients' prejudicial requests.

Taking a high moral ground is self-defeating, if by winning, we lose the very ground upon which we stand.

Akin to Capt. Picard, we should always fight for the cause first; however, if Capt. Picard were threatened with the departure of the Emissary as caused by Worf's assignment, Capt. Picard would have had no other choice but to comply with the Emissary's demands.

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