Comments From a Manager

What Is and What Is Desired – Do You Know the Difference?

Robert Milner, CAPP

We recently began the task of revising our automated parking revenue control cashier’s manual.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “manual” as a handy book for use as a guide, reference, etc.
I mention this because the process caused me to start thinking about how information gets into the manual itself and, more important, how the information gets to the people who actually perform the work. In this case, it would be the cashier.
After a little research, it became clear to me that in many industries there were many cases in which most workers/technicians were unable to document simple procedures they performed routinely each day.
The reason for this may be because many of these employees learned their jobs by “watching Matt do it.” The problem, of course, is that Matt may have been a novice himself.
And as is always the case, these real training issues were discovered only when a serious customer-service issue arose or a detailed task analysis was performed, as was in Matt’s case.
As has been mentioned in previous articles, a formula for training issues is illustrated in the graphic nearby:
After performing our detailed task analysis, we determined there were more than 155 tasks and subtasks that we asked our cashiers to perform on a given day. It is important to note that we included both management and cashiers in performing this task analysis. As was the case in many task analysis, management and the employees have a slightly different view on which tasks are performed every day.
I note this because I believe that only after identifying all of an employee’s job tasks and responsibilities can a useful manual be developed to ensure that correct training will take place.
The reason I use “will take place” is, as W. Edwards Deming, the “Total Quality Management” guru, once said, that this would be “just like taking lessons on the piano from someone who never had a lesson on the piano.”
In other words, if you learned how to use the cash register on your own, you may not be the best teacher for someone else. Neither teacher nor pupil will know what is right and what is wrong. Not everyone is a trainer.
My point in all of this is simple: Cashiers “in the booth” represent an important, yet sometimes neglected segment of the parking industry, and they suffer from too many years of poorly focused training.
I realize that some companies/organizations out there spend money to have a great cashier training program in place, and to you, my hat is off. To the others, I say we as parking professionals/managers need to find out what the cashier’s needs are and act accordingly.
After all, every cashier/employee learns something from on-the-job training – what that something is is all up to us.

Article Abstract from October, 2006

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