The pre-closer

December 20, 2007

180px-mtvstationid.gifHave you ever had a real entry-level job? Not the manager-in-training after getting your MBA job but the teenage job or college student job? You know, jobs for spare change used primarily to buy macaroni and cheese and/or cheap beer? A job in corporate training was not even on the horizon when I started my first job. I would’ve said ‘huh?’ if I learned I would work as a corporate trainer. I wanted to work for MTV – maybe be a VJ like Martha Quinn and interview Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Yes. Definitely. I wonder what the training would have been like…

Anyway, each of my early, entry-level teenage jobs involved on-the-job training. There was no e-learning for the masses. No Hamburger University. Just job aids and on-the-job training. One of the greatest skills I learned was pre-closing at a fast-food restaurant. Pre-closing involved cleaning and re-stocking everything while working into the wee hours. You were real careful as a pre-closer not to muck up the mayo with mustard and frankly, I was a bitch when the non-closers didn’t respect that. Careless ketchup slathering snobs they were.

This pre-closing skill has followed me everywhere – even into the corporate training area.

In the classroom:

  • I would clean up the room, get pencils, paper, flipcharts, etc. ready
  • at lunch, I’d get back to the room early and get everything back in order
  • at the end of the day, I’d clean it back up and replace supplies that had been depleted

Today though, corporate training can be a bit messy. We blend everything together. We give a ton of options – not just one pencil but pens, sharpies, chalk, crayons, whiteboards, a mouse, a Wii….We even let other people blend it all together. In fast food land, imagine if I had invited the customer back to make their own burger. They probably wouldn’t even have wanted a burger. They’d use the ingredients at hand to make something better, different, unusual, unique. They’d get all wacky creative. Dude, it’s happening.

What’s a pre-closing trainer to do? Probably just welcome them, invite them in, give them access to everything, help them, make sure there is enough of everything, let them bring in their own stuff, let them make a mess, suggest when it makes sense (I’ll bet some fries would go good with that). And, it’s helpful not to bitch.

  • http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

    When I cook, the kitchen gets cleaner, not dirtier. Nobody understands this – nobody, that is, who hasn’t worked in a kitchen in a restaurant at night.

  • http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

    When I cook, the kitchen gets cleaner, not dirtier. Nobody understands this – nobody, that is, who hasn’t worked in a kitchen in a restaurant at night.

  • http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

    When I cook, the kitchen gets cleaner, not dirtier. Nobody understands this – nobody, that is, who hasn’t worked in a kitchen in a restaurant at night.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Funny how it stays with us. It reminds me of low-impact camping – carry in/carry out…leaving no trace. It’s not the way I want to leave life however….

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Funny how it stays with us. It reminds me of low-impact camping – carry in/carry out…leaving no trace. It’s not the way I want to leave life however….

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Funny how it stays with us. It reminds me of low-impact camping – carry in/carry out…leaving no trace. It’s not the way I want to leave life however….

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com/ Alexandre

    Very interesting. In fact, the testimonial about your career change is quite inspiring by itself. It surely carries through your teaching.

    Of course, my experience is a bit in contradiction with the pre-closer tidying. I used to be a dishwasher in restaurants yet I tend to be rather messy.
    Takes all kinds, right?

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com/ Alexandre

    Very interesting. In fact, the testimonial about your career change is quite inspiring by itself. It surely carries through your teaching.

    Of course, my experience is a bit in contradiction with the pre-closer tidying. I used to be a dishwasher in restaurants yet I tend to be rather messy.
    Takes all kinds, right?

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com Alexandre

    Very interesting. In fact, the testimonial about your career change is quite inspiring by itself. It surely carries through your teaching.

    Of course, my experience is a bit in contradiction with the pre-closer tidying. I used to be a dishwasher in restaurants yet I tend to be rather messy.
    Takes all kinds, right?

  • http://suintn.blogspot.com/ Mary

    It was great reading those comments and I plan to share this article with my boss. I’m a faculty trainer/instructional designer and everyone always teases me about how I even put the candy we supply in nice little organized assortments at their seats. After 22+ years in restaurants, (yes, I was a pre-closer at McD’s too), it never leaves you 🙂

  • http://suintn.blogspot.com/ Mary

    It was great reading those comments and I plan to share this article with my boss. I’m a faculty trainer/instructional designer and everyone always teases me about how I even put the candy we supply in nice little organized assortments at their seats. After 22+ years in restaurants, (yes, I was a pre-closer at McD’s too), it never leaves you 🙂

  • http://suintn.blogspot.com Mary

    It was great reading those comments and I plan to share this article with my boss. I’m a faculty trainer/instructional designer and everyone always teases me about how I even put the candy we supply in nice little organized assortments at their seats. After 22+ years in restaurants, (yes, I was a pre-closer at McD’s too), it never leaves you 🙂

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Interesting Alexandre. I’m always interested to learn of peoples paths into the learning field. Dishwashing is a neverending task in the restaurant business. I wonder if dishwashing mindset has carried through your experience… perhaps you have a greater tolerance for the messy blended learning of today.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Interesting Alexandre. I’m always interested to learn of peoples paths into the learning field. Dishwashing is a neverending task in the restaurant business. I wonder if dishwashing mindset has carried through your experience… perhaps you have a greater tolerance for the messy blended learning of today.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Interesting Alexandre. I’m always interested to learn of peoples paths into the learning field. Dishwashing is a neverending task in the restaurant business. I wonder if dishwashing mindset has carried through your experience… perhaps you have a greater tolerance for the messy blended learning of today.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Hi Mary – glad you got a kick out of the post. We could probably wander around various workplaces and pick out the ‘closers.’

    In a prior job, I got picked on when we moved to a different location in the building. I was up and running almost immediately – pictures on the wall, mug full of pencils, etc. all in place.

    Others took nearly half a day to move in. Amateurs. Once a closer, always a closer. Keep organizing…the slobs need us to tell them where the Mr. Sketch markers are and, or course to also have a new box on hand.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Hi Mary – glad you got a kick out of the post. We could probably wander around various workplaces and pick out the ‘closers.’

    In a prior job, I got picked on when we moved to a different location in the building. I was up and running almost immediately – pictures on the wall, mug full of pencils, etc. all in place.

    Others took nearly half a day to move in. Amateurs. Once a closer, always a closer. Keep organizing…the slobs need us to tell them where the Mr. Sketch markers are and, or course to also have a new box on hand.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Hi Mary – glad you got a kick out of the post. We could probably wander around various workplaces and pick out the ‘closers.’

    In a prior job, I got picked on when we moved to a different location in the building. I was up and running almost immediately – pictures on the wall, mug full of pencils, etc. all in place.

    Others took nearly half a day to move in. Amateurs. Once a closer, always a closer. Keep organizing…the slobs need us to tell them where the Mr. Sketch markers are and, or course to also have a new box on hand.

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