We should never assume……….

Earlier this year I joined the Gym.  Scary but true!  First time in many (cough cough) years and to say I was daunted by the prospect was an understatement – too much of the good life and not spending enough time moving my body has made me, well let’s just say very comfortable.

I “assumed” – in that moment of panic and trepidation of walking through those doors that the other people at the Gym would be sizing me up, judging me.

Guess what happened…………NOTHING!

No one was staring at me – everyone was so busy looking after their own health and wellbeing they really couldn’t have cared less what I was doing.  Once I got through those doors and my first few sessions I realised that I didn’t care what they were doing either, I was just looking after my own health and wellbeing and doing it at my own pace – in a friendly and supportive environment.

Reality Check – I was wrong in my assessment in that moment.  I should never have assumed that the Gym wouldn’t be a friendly and supportive environment.

When we relate the danger of making assumptions to the work environment, an even bigger risk than feeling a bit awkward in the Gym, is that many employers  of new staff “assume” that because their new team member has done a similar job before and brings certain skill and experience to their business from past employment that they should automatically be able to adapt this skill to their environment, do it to an exemplary standard almost instantly and with no additional training, guidance or resources.

Assumptions are made such as “they say they have Excel skills, and that they have used it before but they have just told me that they can’t set up a spreadsheet so they clearly haven’t done it before”.

Reality Check – They are not necessarily deceptive or overstating their skill because in fact in their last role, they may well have used Excel, to a reasonable level but they didn’t have any need to develop spreadsheets because they were already in place or they used industry specifically designed documents within the program.

The same goes for accounts – “they have accounts experience because they say it on their CV that they can use MYOB” – why can’t they do all of my accounts then?

Reality Check – not all roles that use MYOB have bookkeeping responsibilities and some staff are just responsible for completing data entry tasks within the program or perhaps their role only incorporates preparing quotations for works within MYOB or receipting cheques and payments.

“Sales, what sales – they can’t sell!  I thought they said they were a gun salesperson but they haven’t even come close to target – I’m not happy”.

Reality Check – Just because someone has good sales ability and sales essentials doesn’t mean that they will be an instant success if they don’t have the tools in their toolkit or training or resources to push your brand or product.  They can’t sell if you have no stock to provide them, they can’t sell if say operations fail to deliver what was promised to the salesperson and the customer and they certainly can’t sell if they are tied to a desk doing paperwork when you need them to be out speaking to customers.

So are they a bad salesperson or does your process and resources provided not support their success?

Regardless of what potential employees may or may not have done in past roles, it’s precarious to “assume” that these skills are instantly transferrable and for maximum success with any new placement some key tips are:

  1. Ensure a through recruitment process is in place that asks specific questions around the key tasks that are required for success within your role. Have a detailed position description prepared and ask for clarification and examples of  what depth of skill the potential new team member may have – assess it and ascertain where certain programs have been used that you need – how experienced are they for what you require – not what they have done;
  2. Upon selection, ensure your new inductee has a thorough induction process that includes being shown (not just told) how you want things done and to what standard. Ensure that communication of these tasks is effective;
  3. Ask questions and clarify understanding throughout the induction process and if gaps of skill or knowledge are possibly identified, then that is easily addressed by setting up a training plan or adjusting the induction process early so that the new staff member is truly supported and set up for success within their new role.

We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.     

Miguel Angel Ruiz