“A Dime a Dozen” – Time to Make Change

“Employees are a dime a dozen.”

Remember when we were told that?

Back in the early 80’s, putting myself through school, like many, I worked at a local restaurant. Back then, the unemployment rate was so high; I had to compete for the job I had. To make matters worse, we had to stay in that position no matter what – employment was too hard to find.

Those were the days where on-the-job bullying was commonplace. Where my boss, at the time, would openly yell at the staff when they made mistakes. He would make abusive comments meant to demean and ridicule members of “his staff”. Managers back then had the same disposition as Paul Gleason’s character, Richard Vernon on the Breakfast Club. “Mess with the bull, young man, and you’ll get the horns!” You know the type?

It’s All Good Now, Right?

Now team members are validated and respected. They are part of a team, a part of what makes YOU great. Right? I mean, after all, we fight tooth and nail for the employees we have. We take time to “onboard” them, investing hundreds of dollars in training them, providing them with the tools to efficiently do their jobs, and trust them to take care of our customers. Right?

I wish it were so.

I was amazed as I walked into a store, a well-known brand, and heard the late 20’s-something manager respond to his team member. The sales clerk, probably early 20’s, was asking for a regular schedule. She felt that since she was already working 40 hours per week, consistently, she deserved to be “put on schedule”, and as such should also get paid the “full time” wage. The Manager’s response:

“you’ll get what I give you, if you don’t like it, well… clerks are a dime a dozen!”

This kind of response, in fact, this kind of management is born from a lack of capacity to lead. It is a management style that is similar to a parent’s response, “because I said so!” People say and act this way when they feel they’ve lost all control and need to reassert themselves as the “boss”.

Unkind, uncaring and unfocused leadership will force team members out the door, while those that remain will be robbed of all motivation.

Invest That Dime For Change – All is not Lost

I decided to drop a dime and provide three suggestions to help to turn this situation around:

  1. Commit to training. You hired them, and you promoted them. Now you have to invest in them. The number one reason employees leave their job is because of their boss. Invest in your people, and you will always get more back.
  2. Walk the Talk. Even though we may talk a good game, behind closed doors, when a crisis hits, we might talk and act differently.  Shamefully in some instances. Whatever you are thinking about that employee: great, good, or otherwise, they will know it – so will their co-workers and their customers. If you want high performers, you need to THINK they are high performers and then TEACH and COACH them to become one.
  3. Invest in your capacity. Not strong on coaching? How about time management, conflict resolution or team building? Evaluate your own skill set and commit to making yourself a better leader. It’s never been easier to take a course, learn new skills and build better capacity. Then, take your learning and experiment to see what works.

When it comes to investing in yourself and your team, the one thing you can’t afford to do is nothing.

As leaders, let us commit that we will abolish the words and emotions behind “you are a dime a dozen.” If we can turn that phrase on end: your team will thank you, your customers will thank you, and your financial reports will thank you.

Drop a line in the comments below, to let me know how you have invested in your team to help them thrive.

Marc is a service expert and a master of experiences. He's also an author, speaker, facilitator and coach. He will help your teams ignite their passions, enable your leaders to recentre their focus, and drive continuous improvement through connected and engaged employees. This will allow you to realize your competitive advantage with a connected purpose and consistency of customer experience across your brand. He will dare your people to cultivate a generous attitude and lead with love and kindness first.

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