How can we improve?

Photo courtesy of Timothy Barnes (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Timothy Barnes (Creative Commons)

The day started off normal enough. Workout at the gym, getting ready, breakfast.

As I arrived at work, I felt a sense of nervousness, knowing that much of the team was on vacation, and most of the questions and issues would fall to me in areas I was not used to covering. Like the store. And they did.

Someone needed to leave early. A special pickup needed to be arranged. This client had an unusual situation. The person closing the registers didn’t know all the steps.

It came fast and furious, one thing after another. Big things and little things. One thing fixed and another thing came up.

The team was incredibly flexible, and everyone stepped up to support each other.

One thing continued to float to the top of mind – lack of training can be crippling. The team did not have enough training, plain and simple. Not everyone had the training they needed to be able to step in at any position, and there weren’t enough people trained on the registers, the key position, to cover in a pinch.

Training documents need to be developed so that even if someone isn’t 100% sure of a process, there is something for them to refer to that can walk them through.

Then more people need to be cross-trained on the key elements of each of the jobs. Everyone should be trained on the registers so even if someone just needs a break, there can be coverage without having to move then entire staff around. Backups need to be trained for each position. There should never be only one person who knows how to do a job.

Sometimes it takes going through a crazy situation to realize the steps that can simplify the job next time. And many times it takes someone who isn’t used to doing it to key in on the elements that would be helpful – when you are too deep in a situation you may not realize what some of those things would be. When you are already familiar with the situation, like how to run the register, you may not realize how helpful a cheat sheet could be to newbies.

I was filling in and not used to the process, so it was more evident to me where some of the issues were, including the need for instructions and cheat sheets. And as a team, we successfully got through the week, it was just more dramatic than it needed to be.

It is critical to have all the tools and training in place when the waters are calm, so that when the ship is tossed on the waves, panic does not set in. Now that the full team is back on deck, we’ll start addressing some of the issues to make the next storm easier to manage.

What training do you need to put in place to make your team stronger?