Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lessons from a Young Sandwich Artist

My daughter is a typical 19 year old - going to post-secondary school, creating goals and dreams, planning travels with friends, and working part-time.

At 16 years old, she got her first real job.  She landed a job as a Sandwich Artist in a submarine sandwich restaurant.  She worked there for four weeks (we left for Asia after four weeks but she probably would have left the job anyway).  Within a week, she figured she was absolutely, hands-down continuing her education after high school because she had no intentions of working there forever.

She hated the job.  But she learned something valuable about management.  Here are her lessons:

  • You have to train a new employee.  If only someone showed her the proper way to make the sandwich, she would have had less problems making them and would have made less mistakes.... and had fewer upset customers.
  • The work environment should encourage questions from employees.  When a colleague who has more experience takes over the task a new employee asks about, it not only leaves the employee uninformed about what to do in that situation, but it also results in a little chip being taken out of his or her confidence... and the new employee will be less inclined to ask a question next time - hence, the rate of error will likely increase.
  • The manager really should know how to manage.  When a person is left to manage a team of people and doesn't have the skills, people leave.  And they did.

For a 16 year old's first job, this is impressive learning.  What I learned was that the new generation of kids aren't so different from us.  They want to do a good job... and they need to be shown how to do that.  The difference today is that with technology advancements, a 20-something's world is way bigger than ours was at that age.  They WILL leave if not treated and lead well.

My daughter's second job was with an organization that valued its employees, and she stayed for over a year and a half.  Her boss was supportive of her learning and treated her with respect.  So when my daughter decided she wanted a new challenge and applied for a job more in alignment with her dreams, she gave a month's notice and worked two jobs throughout her Christmas vacation so her boss wasn't stranded and had time to hire another person.  Her boss told her the door is always open if she wanted to return.

As leaders, we need to adapt to the new generation... but the new generation is not so different from us.  When they are treated well, they'll treat our business well.  Having a strong management foundation and Human Management systems will increase your chances of having engaged employees.

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