This is my son, Coulter Shaw Langmaid. He is 12 and in 7th grade. Coult is a great kid, and that is a completely unbiased assessment. Just ask any teacher. He has his moments, as we all do, but in general, he has been easy to raise. Let me preface by saying that is more to do with his personality than my parenting style. He is fairly laid back, empathetic, rule-following, wanting to please and somewhat silly. My role as his parent is to guide him to be a quality employee (employable) and a quality human.
As his mother and a small business owner with mainly late teens, early twenty-somethings, I bear the responsibility of training these kids, my included, to be productive, quality employees. More importantly, to be good people who see the slightly larger picture than themselves. With those two perspectives as my guideposts, I have a few rules in my house that will hopefully instill a valid work ethic and produce a good kid who is employable. These “house rules” can also be transposed to expectations of staff in the cafe.
House rules to raising a quality employee
I am not a maid.
- Dishes are cleared from the table, rinsed and PUT IN THE DISHWASHER. Do not leave dirty dishes on the counter or more irritatingly, in the sink. Same goes in the cafe. Do not leave your mess for others to clean up.
- Wet towels have to be hung up, including bath towels, hand towels and dish towels. 1. Towels on floors are considered dirty. If you dry your hands or body with a dirty towel, you defeat the purpose of washing. 2. Wet towels are not effective at drying said clean hands. 3. Balled-up wet towels smell bad making your hopefully clean hands or body smell bad too. In the cafe, towels are critical to operations. They must be respected as a critical step in sanitation. Use them wisely.
Obstacle course of shoes is dangerous and a sure-fire way to trigger my temper. When I am pack-muling groceries, work bag, mail and other sundries, I do not want to trip over shoes in the middle of the floor. I am likely to kick back and launch the stray shoes across the room. As with most rash actions, it bites me when we are rushing out and those scattered shoes have to be found. In other words, put things away where they belong. On the cafe side, don’t just “kick off” your stuff on any available surface. Everything has a place; be responsible and put things where they go. Tidiness improves efficiency and customer experience. Be a quality employee.
- Do the basics well: ON a homework assignment, do the basic things well. Sign your name on the top of the page; write legibly so your teacher can read your work; show your work; capitalization and punctuation. ON the cafe side, do the job. Just do the basic things well before hopping to the next thing. Prove that you have the attention span to follow the basic functions of the job. If you are promoted, still do the basics well. Quality Work!
Tell the truth. Even if it is hard. It is a lot worse if I find out you lied to me. I think every kid goes through a lying stage. (Confession: I am pretty gullible.) However, learning when to stop and fess up is a critical skill. In fact, learning to fess up when caught is even a better skill. It is such an affront to me as a person to be lied to. I can handle the truth, and yes, there may be consequences. In the cafe, don’t lie. You will eventually be found out and probably terminated. Trust is a core foundation of my company. Breeched trust is very hard to rebuild.
A quality employee knows who’s boss
- Know who is boss and who holds all the cards. As a parent, what I says goes. I am generally open to discussion, but not always. An alternative view must be delivered calmly and logically. I have a few years of experience under my belt, and have a pretty good picture of the situation; however, I can be persuaded to take a different course of action. Misbehavior is not rewarded with things you want, even if you pull it together for a little while. (See #3) In the cafe, pay special attention to what the boss says. If I specifically give you an instruction, that trumps whatever you think of the situation. Follow the established procedures. Suggestions are great, but there is a process for vetting and implementing ideas. A quality employee knows the rule.
Those old school manners and expectations of children are still important. I expect my kids to say please and thank you, to have enough self control to sit through a dinner, to engage in conversation, and have table manners. It is hard, but it shows general respect for others, diligence, and how to behave in many circumstances. I expect the same from my staff. I do not allow foul language in my house or in the cafe. Have enough self control to respect those around you.
A quality employee speaks coherently and intelligently
Communication is critical. I am not a mind reader. If you want something, know when and how to ask for it.
- Timing is as important as word choice. Know when to ask for something. When I come home after a long day, don’t greet me at the top of the stairs with demands. If I am sitting at the dinner table having a conversation, wait for a pause before interrupting. The same things goes in the cafe. If you need to have an important conversation, schedule it. Try not to vomit all your ideas, concerns and life problems at me when I walk by. I am actually very interested in them, as I want the best for my staff. However, take a few moments to prioritize and then ask if I have a minute. (Respect my time.)
Come with solutions. If there is a problem, come with several solution. (If it is easy to fix, like a lightbulb is out; change the lightbulb!) Use your God-given brain to think through problems, and fix mechanical things if you can. For both my kids and my staff, I want to empower them to come up with ideas, solutions, and methods of implementation.
A quality employee come with quality solutions
Let your personality shine. Silliness has its place and a good laugh can be a game changer in tense situations.
Study yourself and be comfortable with who you are. Don’t cave to pressures or trends that feel counter to who you are. Know what you’re good at, and work on areas that need improvement. In order to do that, you need to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone. As a parent and employer, my role is to be the guard rails so you don’t careen off the road. But, find the boundaries.
A quality employee does the right thing
I am not a natural parent or manager of people. I have learned along the way, making mistakes and learning from them. At the end of the day, respect, trust and integrity are the true goals. Do the right thing and do it well. Be a quality employee. I love my kids and my staff. They are my responsibility while under my care. But at the end of the day, it is their job to determine the kind of person (employee) they will be.