BFO Management by the Slice

Ever have an employee who wasn’t getting it? Ever sit with someone and go through what you wanted a few times only to have them show you something that you could swear was nothing like your request?

A Slice of Personal Advice

Some time ago, we hired a fellow named Alfred and put him through several weeks of training. Having found his way successfully through training, Alfred was given client work. He seemed eager and a quick study – yay us! A funny thing happened though. After a few months and getting more work, Alfred’s error rate skyrocketed and people stopped sending him work. This was odd. Alfred had been through training and had shown he was capable. What the heck was going on?

[ctt template=”1″ link=”aGed0″ via=”no” ]During training do your employees appear capable but errors on the job sky rocket? Read @SteveKrull ‘s #management tips. [/ctt]

His manager came in asking what to do. “He’s not getting it. I’ve tried several times to explain what I wanted and he’s just not getting it. Think we should let him go?”. My immediate response was ““Heck no!”. The conversation that followed led to some very interesting challenges and changes.

Turns out Alfred was getting work from 4-5 different people. Same work, just different people. Sounds easy enough, right? Not quite – same work, different expectations. Alfred was failing because each person wanted something else on their pizza. (Ok, horrible segue but stick with me.)

  • Sue asked Alfred for pizza.
  • Eddie asked Alfred for pizza.
  • Allen asked Alfred for pizza.

So, Alfred made pizza. He made pizza the way he was taught. Here’s the thing—Alfred was taught to make pizza by Allen. Allen likes meaty pizza. Trouble is, Sue liked veggie pizza and Eddie liked everything pizza. Poor Alfred had no clue because Sue & Eddie simply ordered pizza so he always made the wrong pizza.

Was the problem Alfred? Was the problem Sue, Eddie or Allen? No, it wasn’t any of them. It was the system.

[ctt template=”1″ link=”u3cBQ” via=”no” ]“Take the time to make sure you’ve given employees what they need to be successful”-@SteveKrull. Read more.”[/ctt]

Share Your Piece of the Pie

Our system taught Alfred to make Allen’s favorite pizza. Our system didn’t provide inputs for Sue or Eddie to order something different on theirs. It took some time, but we figured out that to have a new person make pizza, not only did you have to share the ingredients, but you had to share the recipe and you had to ask people what they wanted on it. Even showing Alfred what to do was not enough. We had to give him recipes and special requests to help make him successful. Not only that, give him a feedback loop to ask questions and get feedback.

Once we figured out that we were each asking for pizza without telling him what we wanted on it, fixing the problem was easy. Alfred is now an incredible asset, makes great pizza and shares feedback freely when something doesn’t make sense. The other silver lining is that the whole operation runs more smoothly as a result.

There you have it—Management by the Slice. Don’t fire your Alfred, take the time to make sure you’ve given him what he needs to be successful. Write down your recipes, submit detailed orders, and encourage food critics so everyone can be happy.

Learn more about healthy work relationships with our guide, The Marketing Director’s Guide to Successful Agency Relationships.