Home » The One “After” That Makes the Most Difference

The One “After” That Makes the Most Difference

I’m in the process of preparing my house to sell. I spent Sunday cleaning out the basement and garage. One big thing I did was pull thirty two cans of paint out of the basement. Thirty two cans of paint colors no longer in use in this house. Some cans were quite full. Others were so empty it was a surprise anyone kept them.

A couple of cans had been put away so hastily the lids weren’t even on tight. We call that “dried paint.” Fourteen of the thirty two cans are opened in my garage drying out to go to the dump. Eighteen cans have enough paint to be useful and will get recycled this Saturday. (Nine cans are left in the basement for touch-ups and for the future owners to dump when they change colors. Yes, the lids are checked for tightness.)

You know I don’t like cleaning up and putting away everything. But I know it is necessary. If you do it right, you have paint cans marked with the date the paint was purchased and the rooms where it was used. If you do it wrong, you have “dried paint.” 

The same thing happens with the hiring process.

You did all your prep work properly. You attracted a stellar group of candidates. The interviews went well. You found the right person. Now what?

My dad, being the introvert that he is, told me the way to train the new staff was, “Give them their uniform. Show them where the bathroom is and where to hang their coat. Then send them on their way.” His philosophy was that if you hire good people, they’ll figure it out.

We had a big enough staff that his method kinda worked. The veterans on the team took the rookies under their wings and taught them what they could. Those that got it, stayed. Those that didn’t, left. Because we hired so many seasonal employees each year, we were able to pick from a large group of candidates those that we wanted for the slower months.

Knowing that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, however, I wanted more than that. I wanted the worst member of my team to be the best member of anyone else’s team. That meant not just having a kick-ass hiring process, but also having a kick-ass training process.

Taking a page from my dad, I allowed, even encouraged, my veterans to do the teaching. The only difference is that I made them accountable. First, I took my veterans aside and did some extra training with them on the stuff they would be teaching to make sure we were all on the same page. Then I created a checklist of all the things the new hires needed to be taught. 

On day one of your employment you would receive this checklist. Each time a veteran taught you a new skill, that veteran had to initial that line on your checklist.

The checklist served two purposes.

  • It made sure new employees were taught all the skills necessary to do the job properly.
  • It held all the staff accountable to make sure everyone was doing/teaching the job properly.

If a new employee was taught a skill but couldn’t do it to my satisfaction, I went to the veteran who initialed it on their checklist to see how they were teaching that skill.

The level of consistency and the level of competence went up across the board. It even got my veterans discussing best practices and best ways to do everything.

When your staff is having debates over the best ways to serve customers, you know you’ve put the paint away properly.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS To create your checklist, first make a list of all the traits and skills the “perfect” employee would have. Then separate the list into “teachable” and “non-teachable” traits. Hire the “non-teachable”, train the “teachable”. The better your list, the better your hiring and training.

PPS If you want some fun paint colors for free, stop by and see me before Saturday.

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