My wife and I recently took a road trip. After a long stretch of driving, we stopped off at a national fast food chain to grab a quick lunch. As we were leaving, she made a stop to wash up before getting back on the road. I waited near the counter as several sets of new customers filed in.
Two young men, different from who waited on us, were working the lone register and taking orders. The first set of customers made their request. Young Man 1 (YM1), who took the order, directed Young Man 2 (YM2) to go fill it. YM2 turned and pulled down some boxes, but then looked back to YM1 and asked him to repeat the order. YM1, with a touch of disgust, told YM2 that if he just looked at the screen above him, he’d know exactly what the order was. Then YM1 turned back to the line of customers and laughed.
Immediately, YM2 took on a look of embarrassment and confusion. He apparently didn’t know what to do and was now being called out for it in front of customers and coworkers. I felt for YM2. Within a few seconds, an older employee came over and made a few motions. YM2 turned and disappeared into the back of the restaurant.
Not knowing exactly what was happening, I started analyzing what I was seeing and tried to put it in the context of training and management responsibility, which is what I do. I’ve made a few presumptions and observations (P/O).
P/O #1: YM2 was a new employee shadow training with YM1 who had some experience.
P/O #2: This job shadowing training is the primary method used in this restaurant.
P/O #3: There was no formal training or preparation given to YM2 before he was assigned to the register.
P/O #4: YM1 has no particular desire, skill, or preparation in being a trainer to new employees.
P/O #5: Management is not particularly concerned with the performance or emotional well-being of employees.
I have no way of knowing for sure what happened after we left or even if YM2 took this episode the way I presumed. But I know how I would have felt if I was 1) expected to know something I was never shown; 2) laughed at in front of a group of strangers. I would certainly be resentful that I was placed in the situation by the company management.
The applicable take-aways for any manager are:
I’m sure there are other lessons to be learned here. Please comment below if you have additional insights or a differing view. I would love to have a conversation.
If you’d like to discuss how you can create a high-performing and safe workplace for your employees, please contact Team Learning Services at 980-435-1457 or firstname.lastname@example.org
David Koster is the owner and principle consultant of Team Learning Services. He has 30 years experience in the education and learning industry.