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Chillin’ in the Culture of Love

customer service training

What do you see in this picture? A teenager mindlessly surfing the web on a summer afternoon? Think again.

This is my oldest daughter, nearly 17 years old, doing the required online training for her new (and first) part-time job for a well-known coffee shop. I watch her in fascination, because:

a) I’ve never seen her in this role before (employee) and it’s both rewarding and strange as her mom,

b) in my business, I develop and implement people strategy which often includes training and development, so it’s good voyeuristic fun to peek in at one company’s on-boarding materials, and

c) I realize I am seeing and hearing this training from a perspective I have never had before.

My daughter has worked a few shifts. She has had cash register training and has set up the direct deposit of her paychecks. She has learned what a 401K is and why she should consider contributing. Now, she sits down to do the next phase of her training online. Eavesdropping across the room, I hear about how the ‘culture of love’ is what this organization is all about. The woman in the video is explaining why love is important in a work setting. The script sounds like something that I might have written, I suppose. But now it sounds unmistakably like a script written for corporate office employees. Not my almost-17-year-old.

She doesn’t yet know what work culture is. With no experience with the language or behavior of people at work, this video seems completely foreign and bizarre. Though there may be customer service, self-leadership and responsibility gems within the culture of love message, I fear they may be lost in translation and that something is missing between getting direct deposit set up and this.

Lesson: In some industries (service sector included), we need to acknowledge teenage employees as one of our ‘personas’ or ‘avatars’ when planning training. Two weeks into her job, if this girl senses that this is not a place for her, but rather for adults in outdated suits, her allegiance and engagement will surely be compromised. Given that, organizations like this one – which serve as an entry point to the workforce for many – would be smart to tailor their on-boarding procedures and definitely their training materials, to this girl in the “Chill” baseball cap.

What examples do you have of organizations addressing training needs of teens brand new to the workforce?

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