I hire a lot of new people for the Christmas season. Then I turn much of their training over to the current staff. Every now and then we run into a problem. One staff person teaches the newbie one way, another teaches them a completely different way to do the same exact thing.
The poor newcomer isn’t sure which way to turn. Do it the way she was taught or the way she was being told to do it at that instant?
In our mid-season evaluation one of my newbies asked me what to do when that situation arises.
My answer surprised her, see if it surprises you. I told her…
Do it the way the other employee is telling you right at that moment – even if it is different than how you have been taught.
The issue here is that too many times we look at policies and procedures as black & white. Do it this one way, every other way is wrong. Yet, many times there are multiple right ways to do something. For instance, you can count back change from a cash sale a number of different ways. One way is better than others, but the others still work.
Do it the way you were just told is the only correct answer because of one thing and one thing only… The customer is standing right in front of you.
If someone who seems to have authority tells a new employee how to do it, you do it that way for the sake of transferring confidence to the customer. It may not be my preferred way, but if I have trained my staff well enough, it is still an acceptable way, which for the moment is good enough. The customer is happy, confident and still trusts us.
I then told her that the next time something like that happens, come tell me which two methods you have been taught. I’ll tell you which is my preferred method and why.
Two benefits from doing this… First, they rarely ever do it any way other than the preferred way after that. Second, when they are unsure of how to do something they can more often fake their way through it, keeping the customer’s confidence in the process, until they find out how to do it better.
PS It makes evaluations easier, too. If you lead off with everything they’ve done wrong, it makes them defensive. Instead tell them they did it right, but there is a better way to do it, and you will see them grow faster and stronger in skills and confidence.