I walked into the grocery store late one evening to pick up a couple of items. Like Old Mother Hubbard, “the cupboard was bare.”
Waiting in line for check out, a little boy who was four-or five-years-old stuck his hand in the red licorice bin to grab a goodie. He popped it in his mouth, and then turned and saw me looking at him. Knowing the error of his ways, he opened the bin of red licorice, and spit his sample goodie back into the bin! YUCK!! He ran up to his mom who was checking out in line and never looked back.
The incident was surprising…and creepy! I found a grocery store worker, told him what had occurred, and he pulled the full bin of red licorice.
You may be thinking, “Give him a break, he is only a child!” You are correct! We all acted badly as children, that is what kids do. But he knew better! The moment he saw my “mom face”, he acted out of instinct, anticipated the potential outcome, and spewed the evidence. When you consider where the ball was dropped regarding sampling etiquette, the mom owned this! She was “checking out,” or should I say, “checked out.” She did not keep on eye on her child or provide the correct training or boundaries to ensure this type of behavior did not occur. Mom was not aware that the situation occurred and because of this, there were no ramifications for bad behavior. No lessons were learned! This was a missed training and coaching opportunity and will likely happen again.
Yes, this situation happens, and grocery stores prepare, but the store may not have an additional supply of red licorice for other customers. This impacts service and results in a loss in reputation, inventory, and revenue. But what does that have to do with my business? EVERYTHING!
You hire a maintenance person, a manager, a call center rep, a dental hygienist, a designer, or a VP Sales, etc. This person comes to you with experience as detailed in their resume or application, and in your desire to fill the role and gain quick results, you may make assumptions. The prior experience of the new employee may translate to your company, but the execution of responsibilities may have been accomplished very differently. When these performance assumptions are made and you think you have a great hire, you may minimize training or gloss over accountabilities, and decision-making authority for the position. You may think the new employee has a grasp on their role, and you temporarily “check out” and focus on the other things that you must do. Before you know it, the employee has gone astray, and you have a licorice mess on your hands.
How do you prevent this from happening?
Like the mom, you may say it once and think they “heard it and get it,” only to find that repeated explanation is needed. During onboarding create detailed training and communicate the “must do” accountabilities, and the employee’s level of decision-making authority. If the new employee catches on quickly you can aggressively move forward. If the new employee does not catch on, you can identify this behavior and make the necessary course correction. Do not abbreviate the onboarding process or conversations as this ultimately reflects the company culture and often impacts productivity, service, and reputation.
Similar conversations are also important when you modify roles or promote an employee. If you do not communicate changes in responsibilities, the employee will do what they have always done, and now you have unmet expectations,
The new year is quickly approaching and now is the time to update roles, job descriptions, and training to reflect any changing dynamics in your business.
Consider the following.
- Have you detailed accountability for the role? What are the tasks and duties the employee must accomplish?
- Have you detailed expected results for the role? Detail with metrics including frequency or timeframe, i.e. do this 50% of the time, or accomplish the task by 9 a.m.
- Have you detailed the level of authority for this role? What types of decisions may be made without prior approval?
If you have answered yes to these three questions pat yourself on the back, YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK!
If you have answered “sort of” or no to these three questions, this could result in a potential CLEAN UP IN AISLE FOUR!
If you say to yourself, “they should have known better” or “I thought they could do this,” you now have unmet expectations. This may be an indicator that you need to ask more detailed questions in the interview process to verify experience and their ability to execute responsibilities. Review the training and determine if it is detailed and specific. It is also important to outline the ramifications of positive and negative actions. When you do x, you get y! This clearly communicates how the employee may earn more money or get promoted or why they do not progress.
The leader has an important role, like the mom, you must be present, aware, train, communicate, clarify accountability, encourage, coach, counsel, and reward performance.
It’s all to do with the training; You can do a lot if you’re properly trained. Queen Elizabeth.