My wife recently decided that my younger son needed a larger bed for his room.
A few days later, I found myself with boxes of heavy wooden parts, unnecessarily varied bolts, washers and screws… and a confusing, poorly copied, small-font assembly instruction page for the “1800 Series Captains Bed”.
Can assembly instructions have two “Step Ones”? The instructions gave two different “Step One” directions. Step Two (which had Option 1 or Option 2) was really the third (or fourth) step. There was no Step Three.
The Mensa members who put that diagram together feel that 7 to 10 separate and individual actions constitute…oh… two steps.
And I’m guessing that the folks who engineered the bed are able to produce enough torque with their fingertips and the included 1½ inch Allen wrench to turn the axle on a Ford F-150. I, however, needed several visits to my tool box to find what normal humans need to muscle those bolts in.
What should have taken me 15 minutes took over an hour. Only after an hour plus of trial-and-error education did the instructional hieroglyphics make a modicum of sense.
As I gathered the packaging, I imagined what would have been a far more helpful guide. Instead of (or at least along with) the obtuse diagram should have been a link to a YouTube video of someone putting that bed together.
A 30 to 60 second video would have communicated far more information, far more effectively, at no real cost to that manufacturer.
There was a time not long ago in which even the idea of “video training modules” was outside most folks’ capabilities and budgets. Today, most of us carry pretty impressive videography equipment (smartphones) in our pockets and purses.
We also have an instant, free, and ubiquitous distribution channel (YouTube) at our fingertips that even allows us to tightly control who can view those videos.
How much more effective can we be in teaching new employees (or giving refreshers to existing ones) certain tasks – operational and sales related – if we utilize short clips of our best folks demonstrating those tasks?
(Crazy talk, I know.)
More and more institutions are committed to “social media.” And that’s great.
But the very same technologies that drive that can greatly improve how we teach our teams internally.
Can you give your team a clearer picture of what success looks like?
As I approached the security checkpoint in the airport last week, there was almost no line for the “TSA Pre” lane.
When it was my turn, an elderly couple stepped over and cut me in line. I prepared to speak up, but noted that 1) They really didn’t know they were cutting in front of me, and 2) The guy was wearing a Korean War Veteran cap. I wasn’t about to give an octogenarian (?) war veteran any grief.
They didn’t have their ID’s out. The cynical thought bubble above my head read, “REALLY? You don’t know you need to show ID???”
But I stood there silently for the minute or so it took for them to dig their ID’s out of her large purse.
After I showed my ticket and ID, I soon found myself slowly walking behind that couple. There was no one ahead of us. When they reached the conveyor belt, they were confused about what needed to be removed and what didn’t.
After 30 seconds or so, they still hadn’t placed their bags on the belt and were talking about whether or not there was a place to sit and take off their shoes. As another unpleasant thought bubble formed above my head, a young TSA agent began to condescendingly bark instructions at them.
It struck a nerve for two reasons. First, I took offense to the lack of manners shown the elderly couple.
But it also dawned on me that my unspoken thoughts weren’t all that different than the TSA agent’s words. I was offended by words and a tone I wouldn’t use… but was thinking, nonetheless.
The agent was making them nervous and more confused. When she got even snippier, I looked over at that (now gesturing) agent and said, “Relax, okay?”
(She really didn’t seem to like that.)
I stepped over and explained to them what needed to go in the tray and what didn’t. I helped them lift their heavier bag and held the man’s jacket as he removed his belt.
They apologized several times for being slow, and I assured them they were no slower than anyone else. (Okay, small lie.)
When we reached the other side, they told me they never fly and how much they appreciated my help.
That was actually the highlight of my day.
The simple choice that turned a negative, frustrating experience into an uplifting one was to quit sulking and actually trying to help someone.
We’ll all have opportunities to complain…or help fix something, this week. Make the right choice.