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.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Mechanic with the Broken Car

You know the story about the mechanic who has a broken car?  Well, yesterday I was the mechanic.  I teach people how to be more conscious.  To have a higher emotional intelligence.  To breathe in the good and out the bad.  To create clarity from the beginning of a project or task.  And yesterday, I did not listen to me!

As soon as a colleague forced a change onto me - mostly because of unclear expectations in the beginning - I reacted instantaneously with defensiveness.  I found several reasons why I could not make that change as requested.  Then I realized I was being completely unconscious.  If I didn't stop this twirling into oblivion (OK, it wasn't that bad:), I was going to not only probably lose a job, but also reduce my own reputation on something I teach!  Whoa!

I switched my line of thought and gave my ego a talking to.  It's all good now.  I've opened the way to something different, and maybe better.  I've allowed flow into my world.  And I did it because I was AWARE of my unconsciousness.

This is my challenge to you today.  Allow flow into your world.  We all have unconscious moments (some last longer than others).  And we all have the ability to redirect the thoughts and attitude and open to the possibility of a greater opportunity.

When you feel physical signs of anxiety or anger, frustration or overwhelm, you are out of flow.  If you allow the physiological symptoms to continue, you could reach levels of unconscious that become irrational.  Pay attention to your physiological symptoms and when they start to show signs of anxiety or other out of flow emotions, change your thoughts.  Ask yourself: what if you allow this option to happen?  What opportunities could arise?  Have a risk assessment and plan in place if necessary, but be open to flow and allowing things to naturally occur.  And be OK with someone else being right.