New hires have to get their feet wet sometime, but what steps are you taking to ensure that they are really ready to do so before you turn them loose?
This will be more of a factor in some jobs than in others. If you are going to put the hire out there with the customers, make sure they know what they are doing (at least to a reasonable extent).
If they are out there trying to assist customers and they are completely lost, the repercussions can be quite negative. For example, the story I mentioned about the guy at the phone store. I was playing the role of the by-standing observer as my friend patiently waited through an excruciating 30 minutes of "assistance" at the hands of an apparent new hire.
In this case, it’s hard to say just how bad the repercussions were. My friend got his phone. I was left with a less than positive impression of the place, but I am not really in the market for their services, so I wasn’t really a potential customer anyway, but they didn’t know that. I could’ve been looking for a new provider, and if I was witness to such a ridiculous waste of time in their actual store, why would I want to chance signing a contract with them for a period of years?
I do not blame the employee who didn’t know what he was doing. I blame the management that put him out there to deal with customers and equipment that he was obviously not proficient with during a busy hour of the day.
To be fair, I don’t know the whole story of why this guy was assumed to be prepared. This is all just based on the impression that I got. It’s speculation. But, it wasn’t like they were short-handed. There were quite a few employees there working for such a small store, and when the store was that full, perhaps the new guy would’ve been better off observing a veteran handling some customers. He has to learn, but it shouldn’t be at the customers’ expense.
Once again, this is not meant to be taken as a rant, but as a real life example of how a business is making poor choices, that hopefully we can all learn from and you can apply that knowledge to your own business.
Before you throw a trainee into the trenches, find some way to test their abilities and be sure they are ready and familiar with what they need to be familiar with to get the job done efficiently. Especially if they are right out there with the customers (or working with dangerous equipment).