Can We Clarify Something?


By Neal Glatt

I have an elderly neighbor who isn’t able to drive anywhere.  Recently he asked me to run down the street to a local gas station, where he runs a tab, to pick up some groceries for him.  Of course I wanted to help the guy out, but I had several questions.  And then I experienced a lesson in clarity that I wished I learned years ago in management.

Let me set the scene.  I recently moved to my new apartment so I don’t know the area super well.  The road out front is a little busy so there is some background noise that distracts from conversations had in front of the building where my neighbor approached me.  As I mentioned, he’s pretty old and a long-time smoker so understanding him was a little difficult.  And he was using some names of locations and streets I wasn’t familiar with in his description.  Plus, I didn’t know what I was even supposed to be getting him because he had phoned his list over to the gas station.

This is where I started to realize a valuable insight for business.  It’s been a long time since my first day on a job or with a new company, but I think that new employees must experience something really similar.  A new, unfamiliar area.  Lots of distractions.  Perhaps hard to understand (especially if onboarding is happening via phone or video chat).  New names and directions.  Lack of clarity on the end goal.

The moment I agreed to help him is when I started to experience something very odd for me.  I was nervous and confused as I drove to a gas station that I hoped was the right one planning to walk in and ask for something on my neighbor’s behalf.  I was worried about the embarrassment if I picked the wrong location or said something different.  I was concerned I wouldn't get everything he wanted and need to return looking foolish.  The uneasiness was a terrible feeling and I felt completely off my game.  I thought about just giving up.

It hit me that this is what most new employees experience when they start with a new company or begin a new season.  No wonder the work is so full of mistakes, so painfully slow, and they so often quit the job.  Sometimes we forget how much clarity new people actually need when we work a process everyday.  What’s worse is Gallup reports that nearly half of employees are not completely clear about what they are supposed to be doing at work.

If we want productive and engaged workers, we need to provide the context around what each person does, how it relates to the bigger picture of the company, why the company exists, and the role we play in the industry at large.  Clarity is a never-ending process that requires not only defining an individual’s role to themselves, but everyone’s roles to each other and how they interact.  Further, we need to explain the full breadth of each day and possible scenarios that might arise for that person.

If you are starting to think about clarifying the roles for people when it comes to winter operations, then you may be relieved to know we have opened registration for our two-week virtual bootcamp.  Limited to only 100 companies, you can get your team winter-ready with short, daily training from September 1-15.  Best of all, it’s only $49 to train up to 10 employees and you have access to the content through the entire winter so you can add people as they’re hired.  Learn more and register now by clicking here.

Tags: Onboarding , Training , Help , Neighbor , Bootcamp , Clarity , Understanding ,