Have you ever watched someone do something that should be as familiar and routine to them as brushing their teeth, but they look like they’re doing it for the first time? What should be a routine, ordinary procedure turns into a total cluster f&#@ in figuring things out, a mad scramble and clown show of errors?
Recently at an airport Starbucks, I watched what happens when a well-oiled machine with good systems and processes gets handed to stupid, brain dead morons. Surely they stand there day in and day out taking order for coffee and it should be as normal and routine as it gets; yet I had to repeat my order twice when placing it, then had to send it back THREE times to get it right. At what point do you call in the FBI to ensure they haven’t been kidnapped by aliens with their brains sucked out of their heads?
Sometimes I see this with employees. I joke that the reason I hold my sales and marketing meeting first thing on Monday morning is because the entire team goes home over the weekend and forgets what their job is, and I have to remind them before they start the week or it will be Wednesday before they get back on track. It always gets a laugh, except from me. Those laughing are doing so because it’s a little tragedy they see repeating in their business – and I have a very competent team. I cannot imagine what would happen if I was dealing with nitwits to begin with.
Nothing gets me hotter under the collar than STUPID mistakes we’ve made before and should have learned from. Make a big, glorious failure by taking a risk and I’m okay with it. Make the same mistake over and over again, and I’ll set you on fire. If I have to constantly remind you of what your job is supposed to be, you’re gone. I don’t have time for it, and you get what you tolerate.
The question is, why do stupid, easily avoidable mistakes happen? For starters, I think too many people go through their day on autopilot, their brains overwhelmed and distracted by their phones and social media, not paying attention to what they’re supposed to be doing at that moment. This is why car wrecks have gone up exponentially with the invention of cell phones. One out of every four car accidents are caused by distracted driving. I suspect it’s higher than that, but people won’t admit to it.
Second, I think people get overconfident and subsequently lazy. They’ve done something so many times they stop thinking. This is why I’m a huge proponent of checklists. When I travel, I have a checklist of items to pack. EVERY time I ignore the step of checking off the items I forget something. EVERY time. So, now I check it every time. At events, we have checklists for what to pack, setting up the stage and presentation laptop, setting up the booths, getting the vendor halls set up. There should NEVER be a mistake, and rarely there is; but if one happens, it’s always because someone wasn’t reviewing the checklist we have.
Even clients need to be handed a checklist of items they need to do, often coddled and prodded and reminded of THEIR responsibilities. If you don’t babysit them, it becomes YOUR fault, and if not your fault, your problem. I see this deteriorating mindless behavior getting worse and worse. Hopefully I’m not alone here? Some are so dysfunctional they need to be fired or they end up being a giant risk to you and your reputation because they NEVER blame themselves for their failure to launch.
As a business owner with a lot of responsibility, I’m forced to constantly anticipate other people’s failures so that I’m not caught off guard by balls being dropped. The response to their bad behavior often results in no skin off their back, a shrug and a weak apology their only reaction, definitely not sincere regret and shame for their failure with swift correction of their actions. WE are left to clean up the mess, so constantly checking is critical.
Believe me, I’m not happy about this. But if you are determined to grow the business, deliver excellence to your clients, make a profit and reduce your risk, you must take this up as a full-time responsibility. You cannot just delegate and walk away. You must delegate, train, watch them do the thing, correct their mistakes, watch them do it again, train again until competent, leave for a bit then come back and check again and again, keeping at least one eye on things along with KPIs to measure and spot dysfunction creeping in.
The good news is that there are shining lights in this world who consistently go above and beyond. They are rare gems. One such example is the Four Seasons in Las Vegas. They consistently do a superb job at every detail. Our last event was our biggest, but easiest to deliver thanks to the amazing staff and leadership there. The year before we got stuck at the Weston for reasons too long to list here. It was a giant, nasty mess of a hotel and staff with no commitment to doing even a “good” job. Never again.
Other rare gems are on my event team who consistently do a fantastic job. Austin and Jason on the AV side NEVER disappoint and are true professionals I can consistently count on. In a world where the number of people I genuinely trust to do a great job is shrinking, I am very fortunate and grateful to have a solid circle of employees, vendors and clients who are an absolute delight to work with and be around.
Do you know what group YOU fall into when thinking about your performance?