Friday, July 25, 2008

What's your "ability"?

It was really great to see all of my colleagues at Penn College when I visited on Wednesday. Since joining the management staff in the culinary dept at Busch Gardens, it has become very apparent that, at least in the area where I work, that we have a lot of problems with our employees. Tardiness, call offs, disappearing during their shift, texting on their cell phones, failure to clean up properly at the end of the night and leaving early are things that I've had to deal with. Boils down to reli-"ability"...account-"ability", respons "ability" and depend-"ability". Webster's dictionary says the definition of "ability" is - competence in doing. Clearly there is a lack in competence for these young people and it is rather disheartening and frustrating to deal with. Disciplinary write-ups don't have any affect on them. I haven't found anything that motivates them. There is a large margin allowed for tardiness in our area. When someone is scheduled for a 10:00 a.m. start time, to me, that doesn't mean arriving at 11:30. When I ask my supervisors around 10:30 if the person scheduled for 10 has called off, they say it's too early."Might have been traffic" is the response.....What happened to leaving home a few minutes early to account for traffic ? Linda's area doesn't abide by the same rules that my dept does nor does another dept within culinary. Seems that I picked the country where they don't hold people accountable and allow such behavior. And it's not all of the young 'uns that do this. There are several employees that are 16 and 18 in age that are great to work with. I can count on them to be there when scheduled and they do their work. The "problem" employees are all college age. I've come to realize that this is the age where "everything is negotiable". I encountered this a lot during my 18 years at the college. It became more pervasive in the last 8 years or so. They don't take "no" for an answer....there has to be some way that they can negotiate things to get their way. In a customer service oriented business like food service, people with this mentality work this for all its worth.When I was a kid, sometimes the answer from my mom was "because I said so" and that was good enough for me. I didn't challenge her....didn't negotiate for a better answer. I knew that the "board of education" awaited me if I pushed my luck or I'd be told to "go sit in THE chair" until I was told to move. Good enough for me....not today, folks.
The more I work at other food businesses, the prouder I am of what we created at Penn College in the Food Service dept. Penn College has a team of competent, trustworthy, customer service oriented individuals who provide an awesome service to their customers. The other thing that has been amazing to me is how a large organization such as BG is so lacking in training for their employees. No staff meetings, no orientation for new hires, nothing to put a new employee into that oh so important "comfort zone" of what the job entails, where do you report to work, how do you resolve problems or questions, etc. Another area that makes me proud to have been part of the Penn College extensive training program to guide new employees through the early phases of starting a new job. When I saw the faces of my former colleagues, on Wednesday, it made me very proud. I know there are days when they get discouraged if they have a lot of absences and they are short handed but believe me, you have it much better than other places. The food service employees, at Penn College, have a lot of heart and are a very talented group of individuals. Although it felt really strange to go back there, after having been gone for 8 months, it was really good to see everyone and say hello. It made me very proud of what we created and what they are continuing. Their success rests in their "ability" to provide outstanding service to their customers. Competence in doing......

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