What is Old is New – What is New is Old – Setting and Demonstrating Clear Expectations

February 10, 2017

I was reminded this week by an incident at one of the companies that I visited of a moment from my past.

As some of you are aware, in a former life, I worked with Burger King International. While visiting one of the restaurants in the United Kingdom, I observed a team member working the fry station. He was a new hire and as I watched, the manager came over to join me. I asked him about the new guy, his name was Robert. Speaking with the manager, I discovered Robert had never worked in food service before and that the fry station was the first position he had been trained on.

Additionally, the manager indicated that he had spent time training Robert on the station. I continued to question him about the training. With this all said, I pointed out to the manager, that if Robert has never worked in a restaurant before, that he had never operated fry equipment, and that the manager set the expectations and conducted the training, why was Robert doing it wrong? That is when true confessions came out.

The manager confessed that Ian had actually trained Robert. I verified that this was the same Ian that the manager had complained about and was about to let go because of poor performance. Yes, it was. With this said, I pointed out that now the restaurant had two Ians!

Moral of the story, if you do not set and demonstrate your expectations, don’t be surprised if they are not met.

Thirty years later, two new products were being introduced by the company I was visiting. However, the management focused on numbers relayed to them by their computers relying on their assistants to implement the rollout, and guess what? Surprise, Surprise there were a number of problems that will require additional resources to correct, thus impacting productivity and profitability of the business. If the managers had taken less than an hour of their time to review their expectations, demonstrate the process, and have the team members implement it while observing, they would have had a successful rollout of their products, saving approximately 100 hours of labor a cost taken straight from the bottom line.

Computers are wonderful tools, but that is their only function as a tool to help monitor the business, they are not a substitute for not being involved personally in the business and working with your people.

There is a lot to be learned from the past that assures a successful future.


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