A letter to my teenage daughter with her first job… March 11 2012

Honey, 

There’s a lot anyone at your age can't anticipate, so I thought I'd send you this list hoping to pass on some information you and ALL people your age should know.  This is based on my experience employing people, and based on my being in professional groups with other business owners who share the same stories.

Rules me, my business partners, and other business owners swear by:

  • Don't call in sick when you're tired.  Don't be late for work.  Every boss will say "it's okay" for a while – EVERY boss has it in the back of their head that you're less reliable than they originally thought.  They will look for a replacement – through less hours for you, through you being laid off when numbers aren't being hit, or through them just firing you since they can find someone more reliable. 
  • We are paying you to be here.  There's ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS something to do.  Find something. Clean the lost and found drawer.  Dust the front desk.  Clean smudges off windows.  Refill the hand sanitizers.  Straighten up anything.  If all of the "main" daily tasks are done, it doesn't mean you get paid to sit there and chat, or be on the internet.  A boss notices this initiative, or lack of initiative, as much as anything you will do. 
  • Internet usage is tracked.  Some bosses might seem to overlook it since all other main tasks are done, but again, in the back of their mind you're less reliable – they just don't have the time or energy to find you something to do right now, or don’t have the time to have a mini intervention and tell you that you're getting paid, and therefore should be doing ANYTHING to better your workplace.
  • Dress appropriately.  Be clean, fix your hair, look like you want respect, and like you respect others enough to fix yourself up.  If the vast majority of people dress and carry themselves this way, it’s a sign that you should too.  
  • Be 5-10 minutes early.  That way you have time to put your stuff away, do any last minute prepping, so that there’s no stress to clock-in on time, and so that it shows others that you’re on top of things.
  • For now, the customer is ALWAYS right.  It's your role to sit there and take it; it's your boss's role to put the customer in their place IF they choose to (which will happen way less often than you think).  There sometimes will be a gray area where the customer has some reason to complain, yet is also partly wrong, and you won’t realize these subtleties.  If you decide to wield attitude based on your limited work life experience, you at some point soon will get it wrong…and without letting your boss (who has much more experience in these situations) get it right.  EVERYONE has to "take it" in the customer service role when they are young.  It truly is a good growing experience.  And I promise you, even if you are right, and the customer is a jerk, an adult customer can complain to management and get you fired if any portion of your communication with the customer (whether you are right or wrong) is inappropriate.

There you go.  Do great.  You can and will  

I love you.

Dad

 

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