Have 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.