Do Your Employees Have Common Sense?

I used to love shopping however it’s not fun anymore.  Lately I have to brace myself to go face to face with the inevitable “clerk” who will summon me to the register with a loud, “NEXT” as a greeting.  They will be ringing up my purchase acting as invisible as possible with a nonverbal message that screams “Don’t ask me anything because I probably don’t know.”  It amazes me how much our work ethic has changed.  I know I am not alone wishing we could somehow turn back the clock to the time when we were happy to have a job, honored to wear the company logo and step into our role and enjoyed making our customers happy!

I used to think everyone had common sense.  

When I was little I thought it was practically a Federal Law that every family have dinner together.  When it got dark outside (or at 6:00, whichever came first) every kid in our neighborhood stopped what they were doing and headed for the dinner table.  And if we were late, panic set in.  Why?  Because we knew if we got in “trouble” there would be punishment.

What were the RULES?  Television off, no phone, wash your hands, set the table, napkin in your lap, elbows off of the table.  We were instructed to wait to start serving until Mom sat down, to take only the portions we were going to eat, clean our plate and chew with our mouth closed.  There was deliberate order, such as passing the food clockwise and taking turns from eldest to youngest.  Everyone behaved because there were consequences for breaking any of the RULES.

This dinner ritual was rarely less than an hour.  Conversation consisted of “reporting in.”  Everyone took a turn while the rest listened.  We practiced “being polite,” which meant we were not supposed to interrupt.  When a family member was having a problem it could be intense and uncomfortable, however we knew that the next night we would receive an update on how the situation was progressing.  Together we created “family history” as we learned from each other’s challenges.

When I reflect on what I learned at our dinner table I am in awe at the powerful life skills and values that were developed.  By participating in this custom one hour a day, week after week, month after month, year after year, we developed a tremendous set of basic skills that was called “common sense.”

Some of these skills are:

  • Manners and social standards
  • Discipline and order
  • Respect for authority and respect for elders
  • How to initiate conversation
  • How to listen
  • How to resolve conflicts and problems
  • How to take responsibility
  • How to be part of a team
  • Cause and effect (rewards and consequences)
  • Relating, relationships and connection
  • A sense of belonging and contribution
  • Interdependence and cooperation

Good News!  We Create These Skills Within Our Team!

There are hundred of ways to create these valuable skills so I will suggest three as a great place to start.

1.  Create daily rituals to encourage connection and alignment.

Have daily 5 minute “huddles” to keep everyone aware of the priorities.  Use the time to brainstorm to create new possibilities.  Create an Action Plan to get the team aligned and moving toward the same goals.  Take time to celebrate results.  “Face time” is powerful and much needed.

2.  Demonstrate giving “respect” by giving total attention and listening.

How do you demonstrate respect?

  • When a person is talking to you face them and give eye contact.
  • Avoid all interruptions and give 100% attention.
  • When the speaker is done, pause for a few seconds before responding.  Take time to get their perspective.
  • Listen for comprehension rather than agreement or disagreement.
  • Reflect back their picture before adding yours.
  • Nothing builds trust faster than listening.  People value being heard.

3.  Encourage open and honest communication.

Employees of all ages dislike asking questions because it implies they don’t know something.  So, make it safe and encourage individuals to ask questions if they are unsure of the priorities or how to do a specific task, etc.  Provide frequent coaching, praise and feedback so they know how they are doing.  Let them know when they need to correct their course or learn from a situation.  The team needs access to the resources, strategies and support needed to accomplish its mission.

Food For Thought

Getting your young employees to give a damn about your business, your customers and their job isn’t easy, however it can be done.  If you want to take the challenge it requires coaching, communication, respect, training and positive rewards.  If you assume they are on board and leave them unnoticed, unattended or unappreciated they can slip into a disenfranchised state and create problems or even worse – become a saboteur.  Make sure you have the “right” employees on your team and invest face time and training to keep them moving toward the common goal.

Kathryn Dager
Profitivity Inc
Office:  (310) 477-8333
Fax:  (310) 478-7072

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