Two of our most popular courses are our Frontline Reception Training I and Frontline Reception Training II workshops. I love to facilitate them because of the wonderful people that I meet.
Over the last few years, I have seen a heartening shift away from companies thinking that their frontline position is just an entry level one
in which you can put anyone there – regardless of skill set and competency.
Some time back, I took a call from the Human Resources Manager at a company who had booked an employee on our forthcoming course
. She wanted to give me some background on the delegate – somewhat put me in the picture as it were.
The call went something like this: “Hi, this is …… from …… and we have booked our tea lady onto your next Frontline Reception Training I
course – I just wanted to give you some background information. She’s been with us for 20 years and is an absolutely awesome employee. She has loads of potential and we really want to upskill her to become a second receptionist
in the company. Unfortunately, Gloria (not her actual name) lacks faith in her ability and doesn’t believe she can do the job, so she has declined the opportunity. Please change her mind and give me feedback once the course is over.”
Firstly, I was really impressed with the fact that they were an organisation who really did walk their talk
. They had sent a number of delegates to our various workshops and it was patently obvious that it was the type of company where people stayed for ages because they felt valued and recognised.
Secondly, I had to tell her that I would gladly give her feedback, but only with Gloria’s permission. (We can’t provide feedback unless we’ve cleared it with the delegate.
Anyway, as soon as I met Gloria on the day of the workshop, I could see exactly what her employers saw in her – she was perfect for a frontline position
– warm, friendly, a great listener, very funny and very open to learning.
At the beginning of a workshop, we introduce ourselves and I ask each delegate why they are there and what specific issues they would like us to cover during the day. When I asked Gloria why she was on the course, her answer kind of threw me
“Don’t get me wrong,” she said, “I love to learn new things, but the reason I’m here today is because my manager won’t listen to me
I had to explore this and asked her to elaborate: “My manager wants me to become a receptionist and I do not want to
– I’ve told her. She thinks it’s because I am too scared to take it on, but it’s not that at all!” Now she was becoming somewhat emphatic and I asked her if perhaps she was anxious she didn’t have the training or experience and might crash and burn in the new position.
Once again, her answer threw me: “Not at all,” she said, shaking her head, "I don’t want to become a receptionist. I LOVE MY JOB!
I’m really happy with the work I do – I’m my own boss. I move between the floors all day long chatting with my colleagues – I get to see the company from all angles and I love the interaction. I would hate to be tied to a desk all day, only speaking to people on the phone. I’m the type of person who needs to be doing something physical – moving around. I have explained this to my lovely manager, but she still thinks it’s because I don’t have the confidence!” This was followed by a warm chuckle from her.
So I asked her if she was OK with me giving feedback to her manager
- she was extremely eager for me to do so. I asked her what form this should take, given what she had just shared with us.
“Please tell them I love what I do and I’m very good at it. It’s a good company to work for and they must just relax. I’m happy to be a relief receptionist, but I don’t want to do it full time.
Oh, and tell them thank you for caring about me.”
Needless to say, when I phoned her manager the following day she immediately asked how the course had gone and had Gloria realised that she could do the job
. And didn’t I think she would be a fantastic receptionist?
I told her that I agreed completely. Gloria was everything a frontline person needed to be and I could clearly see why they had thought of promoting her: “However, I have to tell you that she still doesn’t want the promotion and it’s not because she lacks confidence. It’s because she is one of the lucky people who loves what she does and has no desire to change it.
We chatted for some time and eventually the client burst out laughing: “Well, well, well – that’s a life lesson for me. My assumptions are just that – assumptions!
We’ll just carry on being served tea, cookies and lots of positivity from Cape Town’s best Tea Lady!”
It wasn’t just a life lesson for her – I learnt a lot from it too
. If you love what you do, by all means go on courses to learn new things and increase your competency. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to always be striving for what others view as moving ahead!
I’m pretty sure Gloria is still doing what she does very well and everyone is benefiting from her special brand of contentment
Staff Training is a soft skills training provider. Contact us at 0861 996 660.