Your business, your culture

Your business, your culture

Your employee policy manual.  Your training program.

Could this be your business, featured in the kind of stories you don’t need?

Cab driver fired for taking man to the hospital

Employees fired for chasing shoplifter

A few years ago, I was standing in line at a grocery store near the university when a man pushed a cart full of expensive food (meat, wine) at high speed right past us and out the door.  Two of the baggers shouted and started to give chase, but stopped as soon as the cart crossed the concrete apron outside the store.  They came back in and shook their heads at the manager, who shrugged and turned back to the office, presumably to write up a loss report.

When I mentioned the incident to friends later that evening, someone pointed out that the thief may have been armed.  No amount of groceries is worth an employee’s life.

What I witnessed was policy and training in action.  I’ll date myself by quoting Jimmy Buffet and The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.  What I saw at the grocery store that evening was orders of magnitude removed from what used to be celebrated in pop music.  While stealing an entire cart of food was, to me, astounding, it is a regular fact of life for a chain grocery store.  They covered the situation in their policy manual.  Their employees know the policy.  The grocery store does not end up on the wrong end of a newspaper story.

Now, I can understand that a taxi company may not want to write, “Do not attempt to save dying people” in their policy manual.  However, a quick search on “Baby born in taxi” finds 313,000 references.  (“Man dies in taxi” gets 364,000 hits, by the way.)  Clearly, life and death are not foreign to the taxi business.    Shoplifting is not foreign to anyone who makes money selling products.

Depending on the nature of your business, some potential risks and situations are much more predictable than you might want to think.  If you do business with the public, people will get sick in your business.  If you are in retail, people will steal your stuff.  When you hear of any situation that someone in your trade has ever faced, you have two possible responses:

  • Heavens, I hope that never happens to me!
  • My stars, if that happened here, what would I want my employees to do?

Guess which response makes for a better outcome?  Think it through, put your answer in your policy manual, and make sure your employees know the policy.

What situations have you addressed in your policy manual?  Let me know in the comments.  Thx!