How should an employee behave?

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If you’re a reader of my blog, you may remember a post a couple of months ago called How Should a Manager Behave?  

In a store, the expectation of proper behavior is not a one way street.  It’s not even a two way street.  Actually, it’s not a street.  It’s a store with many interactions going on.  There are even expectations for the customer, but that will be covered at a different time.  FYI, I’m writing this with the perspective of someone at a gas station.

Right now, we’re focusing on the employee.  The person who is hired by the company to facilitate cash-flow.  If you are an employee (as opposed to management), you are the reason the company is making money at all.  An employee is the interface between the company and the customer, and that makes at least a few things necessary.

  1. You have to show up.  This is the most basic requirement there is.  Yet many don’t have that part figured out.  I don’t care if you’re in high-school or that this is your first job.  By this point, you know what an alarm clock is.  Also, have a telephone.  I know that they were only invented 139 years ago, but you don’t need the latest model.  Just get one that plugs into the wall and rings.  Do you know why we want you to have a telephone?  To call you because we’re curious why you decided to not come to work on time this time.  I’m somewhat sad that I’m not in management right now, because in my previous job they actually took that seriously.  It was called No Call No Show.  If you were more than 15 minutes late to your shift without notifying anyone, it was a serious offense.  You generally only got to do it once.  On the other hand, at this job, I’ve found myself stuck at work an hour and a half late because someone has neither an alarm clock or a phone.  I just had to hope that he would someday wake up and decide to come to work.  (also, management was completely unwilling to come in to relieve me)
  2. You have to make the customer feel like they are welcome and wanted.  You should listen to them and anticipate their needs.  This becomes very easy with ‘regulars’.  At the very least, look up from your phone and acknowledge their existence.  I’m frequently amazed at some of the things my coworkers do.  They will stare at a newspaper on the counter with their back turned to their register.  Our front door has a beeper that alerts anyone that the door is open and a customer is coming in.  So even though they know a customer is in the store, they will pretend that they are at home and not working at a store with customers counting on them. (not that I blame them. I frequently also like to imagine not being there.)
  3. You have to do something other than physically be in the store.  Yes, you’ve competed requirement #1.  But careful deduction will reveal that they’re paying you for so much more.  You know, do things.  There is a list of things that need to be done each day.  This list of things doesn’t change at all.  As you drive to work, you can probably guess what you’ll be doing at work that day, because it’s the same damn thing you did yesterday.  It’s easy stuff.  Doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power.  And the stuff that does take a bit of brain power (like, you know, adding) is done for you by computer or calculator.  So here’s what I recommend: if the boss told you that you did a good job yesterday, do exactly the same thing today, and you’re golden.

If it sounds like I’m being snarky, it’s because I’m constantly amazed by how completely some people fail at being at least a baseline useful human.  And I’m also amazed at how many of them we hire.  I suppose you get what you pay for.

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