My son, Hank makes a mean deviled egg. I guess it’s a bit of a southern tradition. My sister Deidra taught him how. He had eaten so many of hers I guess she just wanted him to do it for himself.
Watching her teach him was fun. If you don’t cook deviled eggs you should know that it’s quite an art form. There are lots of details—and a wide variety (by region) of recipes.
One element of the process that must be completed perfectly is removing the outer shell from the egg. If you aren’t diligent you will have holes or tears in the egg white that makes the presentation—as Deidra would say—unacceptable.
She had Hank stand next to her at the counter and showed him what causes the “unacceptable egg”. Then, with a fresh, boiled egg, she showed him the (double secret) process for doing it right. Finally, while standing right next to him, she had him do it while she coached him through the process. Of course, he had some questions and she had to offer suggestions along the way, but in the end, he had a beautiful plate of deviled eggs. Since then, he’s our resident expert on deviled eggs. And he’s batting 1000. They’re always tasty and done right (when there’s any left over!)
This story has a point. There is a RIGHT WAY to teach someone to do something. Let’s apply this to our world: There are too many storeowners who complain about their staff’s lack of success in customer service. Return rates are high, customer complaints are frequent and sales are stagnant. Here’s a quick self-test for you: Have you ever really TAUGHT your team what to do? It’s more likely that you assumed that they would know what to do. Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous assumption. It is incorrect to assume that just because your staff is enthusiastic about your products they also know how to sell them. You must teach them how. And to take this one step further, you must teach using a method that is effective. If you have offered some form of “training” in the past and it didn’t “take”, then it’s time to evaluate your methods. Perhaps your thoughts are, “I don’t have time to properly train my staff.” As my Dad used to say (of course he was talking about lawn mowing), “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
Deidra’s method is a lesson for us all:
1. Show them what doesn’t work.
Don’t just tell them, show them. Talk through what they saw. Dialog about this until you have agreement: This doesn’t work and we do not want to do it. This is a first BIG step.
2. Show them what you want.
As the leader, you have to be willing and able to demonstrate what you are looking for. So, whether it’s a fit process, a service process or a customer interaction, you—the owner or manager—needs to know what you want. And you must be able to SHOW it. Once again, dialog with your staff members to make sure you have agreement: This method works and we both agree that it’s the right way to do it.
3. Ask your trainee to do it for you.
I like to say, “show me”. You want your team member to be able to replicate what you have done. Once they demonstrate the technique, you can evaluate, give feedback and corrective critique. This is the missing ingredient in the process of getting improvement. Make sure that your team members can actually demonstrate for you what it is that you want them to do. Only then will you KNOW that they’ve got it.