Richard, my husband, and I once thought of a business venture aimed at the ever so slightly gullible US market place.
We were going to make CDs; I would give a Scottish phrase in my Scottish accent and he would translate into English with his stupid English voice. Here are a couple of examples:
Me: ‘Ach, ure a daft wee bizzom, there’s nae mistake’
Richard: ‘Oh, you are small lady with questionable intelligence and morals and I’m pretty certain I’m correct in making that claim’
Me: ‘Dinna fash yourself!’
Richard: ‘Please don’t worry yourself about it’
Me: ‘Aye, ure a grit disappointment te ma morther, ye sassanach!’
Richard: … drew the line at this one!
Another example could have been: ‘It’s nae se common is common sense’ but this phrase translates rather nicely on its own. It also sums up perfectly an issue being faced by one of my clients at the moment.
It’s a small business, with only a couple of members of staff. One guy is excellent, works hard and is able to apply real common sense to difficult situations and come up with a recommendation or a solution. Great.
The other guy is also excellent, works hard and shifts more work than the first guy, if truth be told.
The problem is, he just can’t apply common sense to anything that sits outside his immediate sphere.
Here’s a real simple example: He answered the ‘phone yesterday and someone called ‘Matt’ asked to speak with the boss. The employee, quite correctly, said the boss was out and he would call back on his return, took a number and hung up.
He then sent an email to the boss telling him ‘Matt’ had called and could he call him back.
The boss was forced to call into the office with a series of questions:
1. Which ‘Matt’ was it; Matt Grayson following the meeting today or Matt Grayson ahead of the meeting tomorrow?
2. What did he want and what preparation was needed for the call?
3. Was the matter urgent or could it wait until tomorrow?
The answers to the questions went like this:
1. Matt Grayson, ahead of the meeting tomorrow
2. Don’t know
3. Don’t know
It turned out that the Matt in question simply wanted to change his appointment time from 10.00am to 11.00am… a matter that could easily have been dealt with at the first call. Instead it required two more calls and an erosion in customer service.
Okay, some training is required and process written. But this is just one example of many.
The issue is this: how is lack of ‘Common Sense’ defined and can it become a performance management issue?