Both of the sales assistants were incredibly embarrassed. One of them must have apologised around 8 times alone. My wife and I could see her discomfort and we could certainly feel it.
But why were she and her colleague put into such a position and by such a prominent high street store?
I needed to get some new clothes. I had a 20% off voucher and headed to the store with my wife.
I found just what I wanted and went to pay. An in store card had to be obtained to obtain the discount. Here comes the problem; neither of the members of staff had been trained to link the card to the computer system. They tried very hard but could not do what was necessary.
Sadly, there was no one available who was trained to do this!
We felt very sorry for both staff members who tried very hard to sort out the issue but were clearly not able to.
We wasted around 15 minutes of our time and they wasted the same trying to sort this out.
A lot of the work I do is with new project managers. I have often heard them say on project management courses these words (or similar):
‘I wish I had done this course some 6 months earlier.’
They have expressed to me their frustration at having to deliver a project with no overall approach. They were having to deal with risk issues they had not expected or a plan that omitted a key task or maybe they failed to include the project report to a senior manager as no one told them they had to.
They had not been trained. I guess until this incident with the sales assistants I had not realised the real issues they faced, especially their feelings.
To repeat, no member of staff should ever be put into a situation where they feel embarrassed or at a loss for knowledge. Managers should manage effectively and ensure staff have the required knowledge and skills through a combination of training, coaching and on the job practice. Yes, all staff have a responsibility. However the manager must start the process off.
Picture courtesy of Google Images by Claire Murray