Is There a Resident Expert in the House?
May 4, 2009 by admncc
Do you remember the days when you could walk into a retail establishment and be greeted by an employee who was knowledgeable of the product they were selling?
I’m not that old – so I’m referring to the late-90’s, before the job market really started to change. You know; the days when you could ask a question about a product or service and the employee could actually answer it. Or the days when you could stop at a gas station, ask for directions and actually get the right answer.
Everything has changed. Some jobs are now more difficult to get than others. Some jobs just aren’t there anymore. Job seekers are being more selective on where they apply. Nobody wants to work entry level anymore. And everyone wants to earn more money for what they do.
Don’t get me wrong – not every establishment is like what I described above. But a good example of one that is would be Lowe’s. They are struggling to make good hires. And because their competition is so tough, they often wind up with younger-unskilled employees who are not the product experts we’d hope for.
That explains why this incident happened there yesterday. I was looking for a ceiling fan and had some questions for the employee on duty. After he got done staring at me and saying he didn’t know the answer, he proceeded to stand there and read from the product’s box. My response was, “Wow, thanks for just reading from the box, now could you find someone who actually knows the answer.” But unfortunately, there was nobody else around.
That is a very quick example. But it isn’t just Lowe’s… This happens at most of the stores I frequent. OK, let’s back up. I can understand that there is a constant fight for good new hires. And I can understand why, for example, the employee working at Home Depot in the paint section is not a commercial painter or why the employee at Gap doesn’t have a fashion degree. But the issue then becomes one of training. Meaning – teach them what they need to know!
The moral of the story is that if someone doesn’t have the specific knowledge or experience when you hire them – train them to. Ask any Recruiter. It’s all about competencies these days. Meaning – tell us what you’ve done in your previous jobs. And if you haven’t done it, tell us how you’d do it for us with the proper training…