26 July 2007

Learning, always Learning

I was fortunate to have a short demonstration of a quality induction while I ate my lunch today. The manager of a Michel's Patisserie (Australian coffee and cake franchise) undertook a job interview next to me while I was sitting in a food court. She was interviewing a young OS student who was looking for some part-time work to help fund a few weeks of holidays. Over the course of the interview, the manager really caught my attention at 2 points:
  1. She described the process of trialling the new employee. They would ask the girl to staff the pies and pastries counter for 2 hours, then would sit her down, and share the story of their experiences. First the prospective employee would describe her story of how the 2 hours went, including how she felt about her performance, the customers, and the other staff. Then the manager would tell her story of how she saw the prospective employees performance.
  2. The manager spent the majority of the interview talking about what the new employee would need to learn - that the job required a great deal of memorisation, and how employees were stepped through the process of learning about the products on offer.
It really struck me that for what most (including myself, as a former retail employee) would see as a fairly basic, routine job, a lot of emphasis was placed on the individual and their experience. Perhaps it was just the aftershocks of Etienne Wegner's presentation at KM Australia, but this emphasis on the journey - both for the employee and the employer - resonated with me. It made me think of how badly "good" employers and organisations sell their roles as "journeys" - an experience that starts with who you are now and ends with a different you in some way - and just what a useful method of conveying shared purpose and direction this is for any person at any level. Metaphorically, it sure beats the broken down car, 5 tonnes of cargo, and 10-year old road map with a destination that's a 500m circle with the words "get us here" scribbled in over the street name.