The Hiring Hamster Wheel

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Eyes still bloodshot and half-mast as the ever brighter 7:30 am Sun greets them with all of its rays, your taste buds are tingling in anticipation of the long awaited warm, pure love that you will be blanketing them with in mere moments. The love you didn’t have time to give yourself in a morning already full of sounds, irritations, children whining, and piled up dishes.  Like a beacon of hope, you see the sign DD, and breathe a sigh of relief and pull up to the drive through of the local Dunkin’ Donuts.  You approach the speaker and roll down your window, when the worker mumbles incoherently into the microphone, “…morning, what can I get you?”  With a furrowed brow, you begin to order, but she can hear her talking to someone in the background, giggling, and then upon realizing that you are still there, she comes back to say, “I’m sorry, what was that?”

This is the point where in your busy morning, already feeling like an 8 hour day, full of annoyances, you begin to bubble over with the steam of rage. Repeating yourself 2 more times, because she is too distracted to hear you correctly, you finally utter a couple of colorful words and pull up to the window. She hurriedly hands you your bag, hands back your debit card, barely mumbles a disingenuous “Thank you”, and off you go with the eventual discovery that she got your order all wrong.

*and SCENE!*

Was the worker the problem?  Was lack of training a problem? Was her manager not present? What is the precedent that is set at this establishment?  And how many customers will they lose from this lack of service?

Service, Schmervice

When we encounter people in positions of service every day, we take note of how we, the consumer are treated.  Some of us are more vocal and vindictive, and others of us are more laid back, and aren’t fazed by cruddy service.  Some of us want service, others of us would rather not even be addressed.  But the problem arises when those of us who are put in these positions do not know how or care to do the job at hand, and they are ultimately allowed to continue in this capacity.

This lack of any ownership in their role will have obvious negative consequences for the business at the end of the day, as they are on the front lines. So, what do we do about this?  Well, it is my opinion that it starts at the hiring phase.  Too often, businesses are happy to hire someone who resembles a live body to do a job.  This leaves room for overlooking ability, personality, proper fit for a company, and allows this individual to spread their ineptitude across the board.  Now, it’s not the fault of the employee that they lack the skills needed…it’s the hiring manager’s fault for not picking up on this, or not caring and continuing in the hiring process.  Anyone who has been in management knows that it costs money to hire people.  Especially if you are having them drug tested, and screened. Add to that the training hours, outside training, taking another employee away from their own duties to aide the new one, ergo leaving more work that is undone… it can get really costly in many ways. It is hard to understand why a company would waste all of this hard earned money on the hamster wheel of hiring and firing.  Get it right the first time; save time and money.

Show me the money…

Another issue that I’ve come across time and time again, is low pay and high expectations.  I am not sure where hiring managers and tip tops of companies came up with the equation that if you pay someone scraps, you will get quality people and quality work out of said people.  I have rarely seen this situation pan out to anything more than employees who couldn’t give a crap less about their job other than it’s something, but it’s unrewarding, they are the clichéd “overworked and underpaid” grunt worker.  Basically, managers, look at it this way – if you pay scraps, expect to get scraps back.  And see the previous paragraph where you’ll be paying to spin the hamster wheel of fortune once more to replace the employee who finally decided staying in bed trumped working another 8 hours at minimum wage, doing the work of 2 people.  I’m not saying everyone should be making $15 dollars an hour, but I am saying your pay should somewhat match what you are asking of people, and the work load associated.

The moral of this story is that what you are putting out there as the face of your company will make or break your business, both financially and in reputation.  It behooves you, the manager, to more carefully monitor what and who you are putting in place on the front lines, and to make clear your expectations from the start.  Make clear what will and won’t fly on the sales floor. Granted, not all employees know these things inherently, so you may have to state what is obvious to many to the new employees coming in.

I’d rather say it up front, and not have to worry so much about it later, than to never say it at all and drive away from Dunkin Donuts again, wanting to go postal…and not returning.


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