I was in my local supermarket the other day and large queues were forming at the tills.
A manager was patrolling and had called on a couple of people to help out, but the queues remained, and it seemed there was no one else to call on...bet you can't guess what he did?!
Yup, he kept on patrolling…. eyes down, while we all waited, patiently and otherwise, wondering why he didn’t take off his jacket and man another till, or support the people serving in some other way.
The benefits to the Customer were obvious; they would have been served quicker and he would have demonstrated that he was doing everything he could to get them served quickly. It would have brought him into closer contact with his Customers and given him a taste of life at the coal face which, you’d like to think, would have enhanced his empathy both with Customers and his team members.
From his team’s point of view they would have seen him getting stuck in when they needed him, and appreciated him sharing their burden.
From a business point of view, he might have unearthed a block in the system that slowed down service and caused the queues.
Wins all round I would have thought.
By not recognising that this was a time to roll his sleeves up, he lost an opportunity that was good for the business, his team members and the Customer.
Imagine at a team member's performance review when he could have nodded with understanding borne of first hand experience, about dealing with disgruntled customers at the till, or turning a frown into a smile.
Imagine how much more credibility he would have had, when discussing their performance.
Don't get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for a minute that as leaders or managers, we help out all the time. I’ve known people become an extra team member to try and improve performance, rather than looking from a less involved position, at how processes and systems could be tweaked and improved.
I do believe though, that there’s a time to show willing and muck in, and when it can add direct and indirect benefits as described above, then why not do it.
Anyone joining McDonalds as a management trainee, goes straight onto the restaurant floor to learn first hand the role of the people they will be managing - what it's like to work in the kitchen, on the front counter, in the dining area - understanding through learning and experience, every job in the store.
‘You’ve no idea what it's like,’ isn’t something you’ll hear during (or after) a performance review there.
As business owners we can’t be expert at everything, (and shouldn't try to be) but it's important that we understand what our people do, that we work with them to map out their role, to look for efficiencies, and examine together how we might streamline what they do, for their benefit, and the customer's.
Your aim should be to make 'the way we do things around here' (aka your processes & systems) simple, logical and repeatable. That's how you make your operation consistent and reliable. That's how you free up your time. That's how you lower your costs and increase your profits.
We all want to free up our time, we all want to work on our business not in it, but, despite the obvious benefits, we don't all want to invest time first in getting our team working efficiently and consistently.
Why is that?
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For more information on how MPL can help you visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)