Monday, February 28, 2011

Dish Dawg Diaries - What I Learned Elbow-Deep in Scalding Suds

The best job I ever had was washing dishes. It's true. When I was between high school and college, I was a dish dawg and busboy at Kilgore Trout's, an upscale restaurant in Evergreen, Colorado. I was on my feet for hours, my hands were raw and wrinkled from hot water and detergent, and my mom made me leave my wet, stinky work clothes in the garage before I could come in the house after my shifts.

But it was the best job because I *ALWAYS KNEW* I was well-treated, respected, and loved by my coworkers and employers. I appreciated this more with each job I had in college and then on to the steps along the way in my career. I've applied the management principles I learned by example there when I went on to supervise people, and I have even taught my own bosses a thing or two. Or - I have quickly left the few jobs where it was clear that the company was broken in its soul.

Maybe it's because I got these lessons at such a young age, but it all seems like it ought to be common knowledge to any company, common sense even, and I've always been flabbergasted to find that things I expected at work post-Kilgores weren't even on other people's radar. The key things I learned while up to my elbows in suds:

1) Every employee has ideas that could help the business. Employees
are more than just the labor they provide.
1a) The business has to provide a mechanism to bring those ideas out.
1b) The employers have to make sure their employees know how
valuable they and their ideas are. Show them; don't just tell them.

2) Every employee can, should, MUST be held accountable for doing
their job.
2a) The business has to provide the tools to help employees hold themselves accountable.
2b) The employers have to be held just as accountable, and their performance has to be transparent to their employees.

3) Do everything with love. Love of life, love of self, love of your
customers and co-workers.

4) Train early, train often; make learning a real part of every job

Do those four obvious things, and even peeling spuds, washing pots, and peeling grease off the hood vents with the Hotsy will be fun and rewarding.

Not bad for a nutshell business philosophy, eh?

How do you keep yourself and those you supervise accountable? How do you learn from the people you work with? How do you make learning part of every job? Join the conversation at the GCPLearning Facebook community!

Thanks to Frederick Md Publicity for the Creative Commons licensed photo!