Saturday, 12 February 2011

GM's advert sends the wrong message

The GM Red Tag advert is back on our TV screens.

Every year that it airs it annoys me. Why would I want to buy a car from a company who thinks it is impressive that their staff work extrememly long hours - hours that are so long that they forget what their daughter looks like or where things are kept in the kitchen?

Excessive working hours can lead to burn out. I have seen people who've burned out in this way. Their ability to handle work and stress after they "recover" is never what it was before.

It is also well known that working excessive hours damages home life. And people with problems at home become less productive at work.

So in the medium to long term allowing your staff to lose their work - life balance makes them far less productive and therefore possibly no longer of use to the company.

As someone who helps managers to work together with their staff to bring out the best in them, now and in the long term, it goes against the grain to buy a car from a company who sends the opposite message.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

In a crisis you need that foundation

On the Sunday evening after New Year my husband and I felt like a meal out. I am always looking for new places to try so had a list ready with three close to us. The first was closed for the festive season but we found the second open and buzzing with about half the tables occupied.

After placing our order we realised that the majority of those at the tables were in fact waiting for take away orders. They seemed to be getting quite agitated. My husband had a view into the kitchen and could see the manager, perspiring heavily, trying to get the orders flowing.

As time went on there were more and more complaints which were met with apologies and excuses of being busy. As the wait for food got longer the waiters disappeared, to avoid dealing with the conflict. We eventually received our order, out of the blue, an hour later. The Thai food was lovely but the evening hadn’t been a good one.

By this time things had quietened down, all the take away people had left and the seated diners had been served. The young manager came out from the kitchen and started visiting each of the remaining tables. We could hear the conversations as he got closer to us. He profusely apologised to each one explaining it was busy and he couldn’t be everywhere so had prioritised being in the kitchen.

When he got to us I thanked him for his apology and suggested he needed to find an experienced restaurant manager to help him get on track. I pointed out that in fact the restaurant wasn’t really full when things started to fall apart. Blaming it on a busy night was ignoring the true problem. There simply wasn’t the correct foundation in place to cope with a reasonable amount of business.

The key components of leader-management had not been put into place:
• Implement systems & processes – who does what, where, when and how - roles, responsibilities, skills & procedures
• Develop a strong work culture – we work together for a common purpose even when the going gets tough and without supervision
• Connect effectively with people – we are loyal & supportive, communicate well and are comfortable to use our initiative

Because the manager hadn’t created that foundation, when the “crisis” came he had no team, he was on his own. As an individual he was willing, polite, hard working, responsible. All great qualities. But as a manager he was lost.
Where does the blame lie? Is it the young manager’s fault? I don’t think so. The responsibility lies with the restaurant owner. He or she hired someone with a good attitude but without the necessary skills and experience. Now they need to bring in support to teach him. And after a bit of theory most of that teaching needs to be on the job mentoring – understanding how to translate theory into practise.

Do you have situations like this in your workplace? How can you make it more effective and profitable, and still have fun?