I was recently at a hotel that hired a security guard during the breakfast hours. Apparently he was on duty to keep unregistered interlopers from taking advantage of the free cereal and faux eggs.

The only thing that said “security” about this man was his uniform. If he had been dressed differently, he would have been a likely candidate to be tossed out. There was no eye contact, no patrolling and no engagement with others (just his phone).

What a lost opportunity this was. Where are the expectations for his performance? Is there any accountability or supervision? Has anyone considered ways to give this employee even semi-meaningful work? I see no advantage to having him slumped in a chair checking email.

Instead, I think of how the right hiring and training could have turned this position into a customer service role. He could have at least functioned as a “people greeter” (think Walmart) who offers welcome as well as low-key policing functions. Without turning into a waitress or clean-up crew, he could have wandered the dining area and offered minimal assistance to guests. He could have struck up a conversation, handed out newspapers or answered questions about the area. What kept him from being a host instead of a sloth?

If you have the opportunity to hire staff, consider it an honor. Treat that responsibility as stewardship and make every effort to provide a meaningful experience for those under your leadership. The supervisor of this employee should be embarrassed by their own inattention, which is as egregious as the guard’s.

beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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