We have been considering this topic in this space for years: how do people get away with doing a terrible job... and finally have come to something of a conclusion, even a benevolent one.
It's not universal, of course. But it's epidemic -- or close to it.
Call customer service, shop in a store, eat at a fast food joint, or even a multi- star restaurant.
Go to school. Go to work. Ride mass transit, hunt for a house or for a car.
Often, what you find is someone who isn't paying attention to you, gets an order wrong, can't move a line through a checkout register, can't mow a lawn, shovel a walk, inject a medication, polish a nail, change the oil, print the photographs, catch or prosecute or defend a crook, file a piece of paper, operate a toll booth, fill a gas tank or scramble an egg.
We've searched and searched for answers. Considered bad training, bad bosses, bad working conditions, bad hair days, low wages, low self esteem, low IQ, low people skills, low communication skills.
How about an explanation that doesn't account for conscious inadequacies or deliberate lack of interest?
Okay, here it is. Some people (a LOT of people, really,) don't know what work IS or is supposed to be.
All the dandy training programs and MBA-driven business plans one can get on the job are worthless if you don't know what work is in the first place.
First, it's showing up. that's worth a LOT of points up front. Even better is showing up on time or (perish the thought) even early.
Then it's paying attention to the needs of the job.
It's almost inconceivable, but some people just don't know that work isn't a social occasion for which one is paid.
The office or factory or phone bank or kitchen is not a place to go to have conversations about the latest fashions, baseball scores, weather, boyfriends, girlfriends whatever.
Sure, there are down moments you can do that... but it shouldn't be (as often seems to be the case,) the primary function.
When you're on the line at the burger joint, and the counter operator can't get the order straight, it's annoying, maybe infuriating. But you'll live to go through it again.
What happens, though, when the worker in question is, say, a pilot or the clerk in an emergency room? or a broker's assistant -- or the broker him or herself? Or a doctor or dentist.
There is training for this, but it has to happen long before anyone is old enough to enter the workforce.
This is something that should be taught at home.
In order to work, you have to know what work IS.
-When you ask your digital assistant to do something and it does it, do you have the urge to say “Thank you, Siri…” or Cortana or Alexa or Anonymous Google Voice?
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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