When my cousin and I were still in college, I helped her relocate her new car from New Jersey to St. Louis.
Yes. Road trip! We packed up the car: a cooler full of Diet Coke and mini snickers. We had a bag full of coins for emergency phone calls, cash for tolls, food and incidentals, our AAA card and AAA Triptik, super cool sun glasses, and who knows what else. We were ready.
We rolled out of New Jersey with a full tank of gas and then headed west. We were ready until we got somewhere in Pennsylvania and needed gas and saw something we didn’t expect – self service. Where were the full service stations? Oh oh. You see, in New Jersey it was (and still is today) illegal to pump your own gas. What did we do? We improvised, we proceeded to take the giant hose “thing” out of the pump and attempted to fill the car, only to find ourselves spraying gas all over who knows where.
All of a sudden, a man ran over, looked at us and said, “You’re from Jersey aren’t you?” “Yes.” “Let me she show you how to do this.” And he did. By the time we got to St. Louis, we were gas pumping pros. No joke. When I got back to New Jersey, I was bragging to friends about pumping gas.
I know, it’s funny now, but as managers, we need to teach our people, but then let them loose to make mistakes, learn, grow, and pump (and spill) their own gas. By giving our people the freedom to fail, and accepting those failures as a normal part of employee development, we are showing our people that we want them to learn and grow into productive employees.
Until next month!