When hiring employees, the best employees to hire are the ones that will take ownership of a bad situation and make it better. This problem came up in conversation twice over the last two days.
Peg and I went to the Original Pancake House at Sixth and Pine this morning, which opened at 6:00 A.M. We arrived at 8:25 A.M. Scattered in front of the entrance was shredded lettuce. It didn’t look fresh. I’m guessing it may have come from a “to go” order at Spanky Burgers (one door down on the corner) the night before. I told the receptionist at OPH that there was shredded lettuce on the step outside the door. She looked at me in confusion. I repeated the statement. She didn’t seem to understand. I repeated the information a third time and pointed towards the door.
We were there to meet two other couples for breakfast. They arrived a few minutes after we did. After we were all settled in, I mentioned the lettuce. My buddy Mike, said that he had also mentioned it to the receptionist and she acted like she knew what he was talking about. Mike used to own The Cottage Café in Cle Elum, so he knows about restaurants . . . and business.
I grew up in a family business. My parents owned two motels (Ponders Corner and Tacoma). I learned to pick up or fix up as much as I could . . . it was just good for business . . . It doesn’t take much time or effort to just do the little things. Dave Sipila, owner of Maple Valley Plumbing, must have grown up in similar circumstances. He says, “When I was a kid if I ever walked by a situation like that at the house . . . like not take down the garbage cans. It meant for a rough day under a lot of scrutiny.” – maplevalleyplumbing.com
When our friends finished laughing and dining an hour later at the Original Pancake House I asked for the opinions about whether or not the lettuce would be gone when we left. There were three votes for gone. Two votes that it would still be there and my vote that I hoped it would be gone, but that it would probably still be there waiting for people to step over it.
Of course the lettuce was still there. Six of us stood there laughing and making rude remarks when we stepped outside. Several people walked around and over it and perhaps mentioned it once more at the check-in desk for table service. The problem must have finally sunk it. The receptionist soon came out to sweep it up.
When I told my cousin Lavinia in Detroit, she responded, “Let me guess. The person you talked to was under the age of forty.” It looks to me like perhaps, companies aren’t giving their employees proper training. There are all kinds of training products these days to improve work related problems. And they are not that expensive. – ideasandtraining.com/Business-Training-Programs.html
Friend and reader David Breneman, shares this tidbit about business, “Walt Disney used to prowl Disneyland in the mornings before it opened. If there was something that needed to be swept up, and everyone was busy, he’d grab a broom and take care of it. Leadership by example.” If you see a problem you should fix it if you can. It doesn’t matter if you are an executive or an hourly employee. Location doesn’t matter, either. Local restaurant owner (Shake, Shake, Shake) Steve Naccarato says, “Like Frosty Westering said, “Make the big time where you are.” Frosty Westering was a fantastic football coach and mentor at Pacific Lutheran University. Anyone and everyone can make a difference.
The first employee to walk through the front door or un-lock the front door should have taken care of the spilled lettuce by the entrance to the Original Pancake House. What restaurant would want garbage on their front step? Any employee could have improved the dining experience . . . so why did it take half a dozen or so comments about the lettuce for someone at the Original Pancake House to take ownership of the problem and correct it? Ownership should ask management; management should ask the employees; and employees should ask themselves why they didn’t feel compelled to act.