The broom doesn’t work

It was a dry, if cold, morning with barely a gentle breeze to disturb the bare trees and there was no excuse for our forecourt not to have been swept before seven thirty when the building starts to come alive for the day. It clearly had not been swept though and my enquiry as to why not was met with the response that forms the title for this blog; “The broom doesn’t work”. Moments like this are priceless for me. I have long had a keen sense of pleasure from the ridiculous things that life brings and with this for a start it looked like it was going to be a good day.

The words came from our current graduate on the management training scheme who was with us for three to six months to see how life was at our particular part of the corporate coal face. Now managers in this environment are supposed to be able to do anything relevant to the business and it is not uncommon to find one wielding a broom at some point during the day, so our graduate was doing nothing unusual here, but how could a broom not work? This was as going to be my first problem or the morning and so I asked to be shown the faulty item.

Now brooms are simple aren’t they; a handle, a head and on the latter some bristles so if you hold the handle and push the bristly part across the floor you should be fine. Maybe, but the humble broom comes in different sizes and styles and with a variety of stiffness in the bristle department for, like so many tools, there is one for almost every job. As long as you use the right broom for whatever sweeping job you have to deal with you should be fine, so I was curious about my young colleague’s problem, but my assumption that they were probably using the wrong broom for the job proved to be wrong.

One look at the broom told the story; it was the right broom for the job, but it was filthy and clogged with dust and fluff and it was the work of a moment to pull off the fluff and tap the head on the edge of the bin to knock out the dust and was it in working order again. Or was it, for with most brooms, but not all, you will get a different result if you push it to the one that you get when you pull it and when I enquired as to whether or not my colleague had had any training in the use of the contents of the broom closet I was treated to a withering look of contempt. It seemed that the concept of training someone in how to sweep was a ludicrous one.

But this is a fundamental issue for any organisation because all people employed need to be doing their jobs to the best of their abilities and it doesn’t matter how simple a task might seem having people who can do it correctly and efficiently is important. That also requires people in supervisory roles knowing how things should be done so that they can see where problems are arising. Keep your front line working at its peak and in any organisation it will bring results.

 

 

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