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July 22, 2013
Mistakes I’ve made #4
November 18, 2013
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Mistakes I’ve made #3

Good people don’t always make good team.

Good front desk help is hard to find. Optimism, positive attitude and outgoing personality are a must. Its recommended to qualify front desk personnel by asking if they have had good grades because that demonstrates they are also hard working -normally.
Within 30 days their true colors show. If the new hire is ‘not getting it’ after 30 days, then you can invite them to make their services available to another organization.

So before I tell you another embarrassing story about mistakes I’ve made,
a quick question:

What is the value of a First Class Stamp?

Not sure? Take a guess. Really. Pick a number. As of August of 2013 the value of a First Class stamp is .46 cents. Like you, I have a variety of stamps in the drawer because it seems pretty random when postage goes up. In fact, sometimes, I walk on the wild side and stick 2 -gasp!- First Class stamps on the envelope.(Shout out to all of you who have postage machines that will weigh your letters!)

On to my story…I could have known that the full time front desk girl was a bit of a problem. Truth is she did just enough: she showed up on time, answered the phone and took messages. She didn’t always dress appropriately (belly shirts & visual piercings), clients told me she wasn’t really all that friendly (okay the owner said that)and many common sense tasks seemed to need a lot of explanation. But I thought she would improve with time and encouragement.

The day came when I knew. I mean I really knew I had to make a change. One day the office was sending a welcome letter to all the new chamber members. This was a fairly straight-forward duplicable project that we did every month.

I approached the front desk and noticed the letters had been stuffed and envelopes sealed with no personal signature from me. Eh, a bit impersonal, but I could live with that. Carry on.
An hour later I was heading to the Post Office and wanted to put the letters in the mail. Hold the press. The 60 or so envelopes had been stamped…but with a .01c stamp.

Snap! I do have a number of different stamps in the drawer.

Holding up an envelope and laughing I say to the secretary, “How far do you think this is going to go?”
She stares back at me saying nothing.
I continue, “It’s going to go to the Post Office and then come right back here! Look at this…what do you see?”
She stares back at me saying nothing.
Giggling because I think she hasn’t noticed, I point to the .01c stamp. “These envelopes all have .01c stamps!”
She replies, “Well how much does it need? .10c?”

Oh man. Uh oh.

The secretary continues, “Well we ran out of the other ones, so I used these.”
My mind is racing. I thought she hadn’t noticed.
Smiling I say, “Well these aren’t gonna work. Please stick a First Class stamp on each of the envelopes.”
“Do you want me to peel off the other stamp?”
“No, just stick the new one on top. I can live with a .60c mistake”

This wasn’t a .60c mistake. It was confirmation that this secretary was not a good match for the office.
This example was the final situation of MANY situations I faced with this young (21 y.o.) lady. The writing was on the wall, but I didn’t want to read it. I didn’t want to fire this employee because I didn’t want to have to find someone new. I didn’t want to have to train someone new. But I was working twice as hard as I should have been following up on every task to make sure it was done correctly. Seriously!? a .01c stamp on a regular envelope? Have you never mailed a birthday card; sent a bill or thank you note?

The morale of my story is, read the writing on the wall. Do yourself and your team a favor: Identify your weakest link and do what is necessary to make it better. Which could mean that person is no longer a part of your team.

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