An interesting thing happened to my son, Ross, recently. After graduating from college with two degrees, he has decided to return to school. This time, at a trade school that will train him in the science of Non-Destructive Testing. As part of the school, he was required to go through a series of tests, including an eye exam. During the eye exam, the examiner would ask, “Which one is clearer, this one or this one?” Finally at the end of the exam, he was asked which was worse: A or B. When he responded B, the examiner informed him B was his un-aided vision.
Ross still has 20/20 vision but he was devastated to realize at the prime age of 24, his eyes were not perfect. He came over for dinner mumbling something about his bad gene pool.
Ross’s Eyes and Employee Lunches…?
So what do employee lunches and Ross’s vision have in common? Probably nothing but it got me thinking. Like Ross, how many of us in management go about our day, not seeing the slight changes, or not seeing how things have deteriorated? Most of the time, the changes happen very slowly and we don’t notice the change, until an outsider asks the question, “Which is clearer, A or B?”
We, as CEOs, can’t visit the eye doctor to have our organizations examined, but we can do the next best thing: take employees to lunch. The key is to take them on their very first day and then again on their last day.
Fresh Eyes See Things That We No Longer Pay Attention To
Think about the first time you walk into a business, either as a customer or potential employee. What was your experience like? Was the parking lot clean? Were you greeted? Were the offices clean? What stood out in your mind (positive or negative)?
Take advantage of those fresh eyes to learn everything from the recruitment process, through interviewing to acceptance of the offer. Find out how the new employee learned about the position and why in the end he or she selected your organization. Ask about first impressions; all of the first impressions, from the first email, to the first phone call, to the first time the new employee walked into your office.
My oldest son, Matt, recently decided to leave his company and received four different job offers in a period of two weeks. You would be amazed at the difference in the experiences and first impressions. He decided on a large multi-national corporation in Florida, so most likely the CEO won’t be taking him to lunch, but if he did, he would quickly learn what they did well and how they can improve. And he would have a loyal employee for a long time.
Buy Employees Lunch on Their Last Day
I write this knowing the 99 percent of organizations won’t follow this advice, but at least hear me out. Most organizations today have exit interviews, where the human resources department asks questions and the employee is informed about the last paycheck, health insurance and vacation pay. This is not what I am talking about.
When Matt decided to start looking for a new job, it was because of some major issues and dysfunctional behavior within middle management. Last year, I wrote a column titled, “I quit because my scissors were broken.” In that column, I tried to get across the idea that employees tend to quit over small things and if you can better communicate and understand those things, you will decrease your turnover.
Instead, we take the safe approach or, worse, put our heads in the sand and assume it had nothing to do with our organization, management or culture. Sure, you may hear a bit of complaining or whining, but I promise you will also pull several gems of data that will help you to improve your organization. Simply doing these exit lunches will tell you more than any consultant, survey or advisory board will tell you and it will allow you to make real change and impact.
Happy Father’s Day Pap
And finally, with Father’s Day this month, I want to say Happy Father’s Day to the best manager I ever saw in action, my dad. He knew the importance of working hard, respecting your employees, setting a positive example and getting you to do more than you thought you were capable of. Happy Father’s day, Pap. FBN
By T Paul Thomas