GLENDALE, Ariz. — When we hire new workers, the ideal scenario is for them to do a great job right out of the gate, and that requires some training.
Start with a clear job description that details the skills, duties and responsibilities.
After the job description, I began with safety issues, which are the most important in my mind.
Training someone can be easy but the real trick is getting your rules, policies and procedures into your attendant’s long-term memory.
HERE ARE THE RULES
I liked to post my written rules for all to see, rather than try to only present them verbally. So, I posted a few laminated lists of policies and rules to help remnd everyone what was required of them:
- Cleanup duties for all shifts
- Duties specific to the graveyard shift
- Tasks an attendant should perform when not busy, and
- “Things That I Consider Wrong” (which could lead to various levels of disciplinary action)
When you post your employee policies in this way, no one can say that they “didn’t know” or they “weren’t told.”
Nowadays, I suppose you could do this online, but to physically post these topics in the workplace provides an ongoing reminder to them. The topic and content of your lists is up to your own judgment.
SET AN EXAMPLE
Remember me saying in Part 1 that I’d lost some new hires who didn’t want to mop the floor, one of their prescribed duties? Well, I mopped my laundry’s floors many, many times right in front of my attendants.
Over the years, they also watched me get down on the floor and scrub the washing machine bases. I handled drop-off service. I cleaned out lint traps.
I never asked any employee to do anything that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do myself. So, how can they refuse a task when they’ve seen their boss do it? If they did in my store, they were outta there!
KEEP SAFETY TOP OF MIND
I always trained my crew for emergencies. However, I broke my own repetition rule by showing how to handle emergency situations only once. That was dumb of me!
One day, when I wasn’t there, there was a dryer fire. I had shown every employee to shut off the circuit breaker first, grab the fire extinguisher and then slowly open the door just an inch to blast the fire with the extinguisher. (I also had these instructions posted right above every fire extinguisher.)
A dryer fire can be very scary to most people. Unfortunately, in this instance, my employee froze like a deer in the headlights. She panicked and opened the dryer door wide open while it was still operating, which only made the flames leap out. Her fear, and my own incompetence in showing her how to respond to such a fire, led to panicked action. Luckily, a customer in the store took charge and grabbed the fire extinguisher.
After that incident, I learned to repeat all my safety instructions on a routine basis to keep them fresh on everyone’s mind (there’s that repetition thing again).
THE RETURN DEMONSTRATION
Most of the time, new trainees will nod yes to whatever you are teaching them. Sometimes, you get a lot of nodding. Maybe they got it, maybe they didn’t. So how do you know?
You can ask them, but the best thing to do in this situation is what I call a return demonstration. After you show them something, have them show it right back to you.
Not only do you get to confirm whether they got it or not, having them go through the mechanical action of duplicating reinforces what you just showed them and really helps them remember.
In Thursday’s conclusion: Open-ended questions, the employee manual, and the power of slogans and sayings
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].