Monday, May 7, 2018

If You're Not Assessing - You're Guessing

I generally find marketing slogans and cliches' to be irritating, especially ones that rhyme, but I give our local ATD chapter a pass because, well, it's just so darn true: If you're not assessing, you're guessing!

Besides the great cheese table and bottomless refills of Diet Coke, what keeps me coming back to these monthly meetings, I suppose, is they consistently hit the ball out of the park (at least I didn't rhyme with that one) and provide usable insight to what's really important: how to move your service team from good to great, or where ever it's destined to be at the moment.

So, why isn't management, across just about all industries and including our very own domestic staff variety, placing more emphasis on pre-assessments of needs, instead of diving right into pre-canned training and staffing solutions? 

While I can't speak for everyone, my own experience reveals:

  • Assessments are hard work:  In the interest of both time and space, I won't delve into here why people sometimes avoid hard work, yet they do, especially when other options are perceived as less competing for, well, time and space. 
  • Assessments can be tedious:  Let's face it, prep work of any kind, whether chopping celery or taking the time to honestly interview the principals, staff, vendors and
    others, to build a solid foundation of understanding of why something isn't working
    At least they made it a team effort.
    on your estate, can be tedious (not to be confused with hard work, above), time consuming, and often impossible. As a result, solutions are often more guessed than assessed... and simply hoping everything works out for the best (sorry... more rhyming!).
  • Assessments aren't very entertaining:  It's an unusual talent to assess a household with a neutral, unbiased approach - and at the same time show up to the meeting with a pretty 4-color brochure that's selling something else. Assessments are fairly serious, dry projects, which often point to solutions that recommend spending less of the principals' money, not more. As such, they usually don't lend themselves to the colorful type of marketing that estate owners and estate managers are more likely to notice, purchase, and want to have fun being a part of. 
  • Assessments can be hazardous to one's job:  Taking a peek beneath the organizational behavior bandage is not for the faint of heart - and dealing with the smelly ooze that soaks through to the surface can take a bit of moxie. An honest look at problems on a domestic staff can open up some equally honest discussions, yet some of those discussions can be just too difficult for the family office and principals to face. Recall the old saying, "don't kill the messenger"? Proceed with caution, and remain aware of what impact your discoveries will have on your own continued employment.
  • Assessments are a long-term and substantial investment:  Building a foundation of understanding of why things are (or not) working - just like all long-term investments - takes both a long-term vision and a serious commitment to invest in the time for assessments themselves... two resources not always available.

Good help is so hard to find these days.

In contrast, guessing is the antithesis of the above. It really never works, but it's easy, and safe, and even kinda fun most of the time, and that's why it's so often chosen by estate owners when trying to fix domestic teams that aren't working out too well. Whether assessing your estate's performance issues is good, worth noting, will also depend on balancing out the costs of the above with the payout of getting to the root of what your team needs to prosper and meet the estate's real service needs. 

So, then, which approach would work best when developing service on your domestic household staff team... to its full potential? 

Guessing?  Or, assessing?