Lead or Lie Down

Aug. 9, 2021
Create an environment in which employees get the most out of their experience.

Have you wondered why McDonald’s has signs out saying they will give the person that pushes the fry button $14 to $15 an hour? 

Then you look at a place like Target, and the average cashier makes $10.25 (according to Indeed). Why would anyone apply and work for Target for 33 percent less money when they are both entry-level positions? McDonald’s should be overwhelmed with applicants and Target should be scratching their head, crunching numbers to raise wages. The reality sets in when you go to Target and the store is stocked, clean and the team members are smiling and ready to work. Go to McDonald’s, they probably still have the lobby closed as they are short staffed, the place is dirty, and the staff, well, they put a chicken patty on my Big Mac.

How can one company pay significantly less to hire and train successfully while the other hires for more and cannot get the cashier to put the cellphone down while taking your order. When you think about this, why are you using the McDonald’s pay rate as an excuse for why you cannot get or attract people? Your employees are not leaving you to go to McDonald’s. If they wanted to be there, there was nothing stopping them from applying and getting a job. Nothing.

Can’t Please Everyone

I have been seeing a trend in leadership styles as frightened managers across many industries lie down and allow their team to walk over them. They feel that if they correct the employee, they will quit and go work for someone else. The manager instead picks up the slack, tries to keep everyone happy and no longer manages or leads.

How did we get here? One of the obvious factors was COVID, followed by an over-exertion of government benefits to not work. An equally big factor is that we feared not having a crew, so we set aside our skills of development, procedures, and leadership so we can work with a crew that has no will or skills to complete the job. That lack of “will” was created by the lack of leadership in the store. It was the acceptance of less execution that churned out the lack of outcome.

In all of the employee engagement surveys I have seen or hosted, I have never found one where pay is ever in the top half of the ranking when asking employees what they want out of their work environment. What they want is a steady job, a sense of accomplishment, a place to grow and a balance in their life.

Creating an environment where no one knows what to do and the place is hectic drives off the best employees. It is like advertising a $20 oil change and complaining about your ticket average because they only want the cheapest oil change. You have set up the environment that you do not want because you feared being in that environment you now have.

Lead or Lie Down?

Do you now lead, or do you lie down? You have seen what laying down has resulted. Leading is the other option. I mean lead—I do not mean dictatorship, shock collars and the infamous write-up. I mean teaching, communicating, posting expectations, and teaching them how to reach those goals. There are a million of those yard signs out there saying “now hiring,” but they came to you. You already have an advantage of keeping them at this point.

Many people are finding new careers as their old ones kicked them to the curb when times were rough last spring. You hung in there, served your customers, took care of your stores, and kept people going. Be proud of that. It was not easy.

If you can find a way to express that to your team they will get on board and continue the journey with you. It is not a celebration (and this is no time to celebrate) but showing your team effort, compassion and vulnerability goes a long way when putting people on the bus.

Brush up on your communication skills, feedback, shadowing, and delegation techniques. If you need help, Google each one of those phrases or read some previous articles in NOLN on leadership and development tactics. Be prepared for the realization that you may lose one that does not want to be there or do anything. That is not really a bad thing. Realize that they are more influential in chasing off the good employees than you are by requiring them to pull the safety nets back in place when the service is done.

If you like the way things are going right now, ignore the article, hold your head high and your chest out and say, “that’s not me”. If not, get up and lead. 

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