In the past two blog posts, we discussed two related topics.
- A candidate who was VERY accomplished and someone any company would love to hire. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize that she needed to be descriptive and detailed about her accomplishments. Hence she looked just average.
- Why hard work goes unnoticed and the benefits of talking about what we are going to do BEFORE we do them.
This week’s post
I share how to list out your accomplishments BEFORE they are complete. This does a few things:
- Removes the stress of bragging about what we have accomplished with our managers after the work is done
- Ensures that you and your manager are aligned in what you are working on and that the work is important and valued
- Gives the actual work (and not just the final results) value that your manager can see, understand and appreciate. (Especially needed when managers don’t know what you do)
When we do this, our manager:
- Has pre-written material when it comes to your review. (This makes your review the easiest to write for your manager, always a good thing.)
- Understands our professional goals and can help or notify us when the opportunity comes up.
Low maintenance employee
Managers want to work with employees who are self-directed and need little to no management. The way we keep our managers off our backs is by keeping them updated on what we are working on and why. One simple way to do this is outlined below.
- Commit to your manager in writing, the actual task you are going to accomplish over the next 3 to 6 months. (hopefully, it is something that is important to your manager)
- Put together a very brief synopsis of why your project is important to the department or the company
- Outline the steps needed to accomplish this task and include dates when individual milestones will be hit
- Update your manager via email in a consistent format and time cycle so your manager becomes trained in your specific style.
Do the above and you will stand very tall amongst a low bar of folks doing nothing proactive about their careers. Yeah, I’m in HR and I just said that.
So, for instance, let’s say I am a coffee boy in training at the local Acme Coffee Haus which also specializes in coffee roasting. I happen to love coffee and my goal is to become a full-fledged barista. How much do I love coffee? I buy coffee beans on the internet and roast them in an air pop popcorn machine myself. Believe it or not, I grind them in a hand grinder and weigh coffee portions for consistent flavor profiles. Call me a coffee nerd, but I watch the Barista Championships on YouTube. What can I say? I live in Seattle and I got me some dreams bitches!
Grunt work for a newbie
As a coffee boy in training, I get to sweep up the floor which is covered with coffee beans, ground coffee, used coffee grounds, and empty sweetener packets. I get to clean the toilets and when the Master Barista wants a sandwich from Jimmy Johns, I get the privilege of running around the corner and coming back with a Number 9 on wheat with a bag of plain chips. Basically, I am the rented mule at the Acme Coffee Haus and I don’t get any trophies when I bring back the Master Baristas sammy in record time.
I do NOT get to touch the coffee roasting machine, I do NOT get to steam any milk, and I do NOT get to wear a cool flat brim hat with our Coffee Haus Logo on it. I get dickus.
One day after cleaning up a spilled triple latte with extra mocha, and a splash of mint with whip, I get frustrated and say to the Master Barista, “This is bull shit! When are you going to make me a Barista? Haven’t I paid my dues yet?”
All I get in return is the equivalent of The Devil Wears Prada and an order to fetch a Number 9 on wheat with a plain bag of chips. Fuming, I storm out and slam the door. I can’t believe this shit!
On the way back from Jimmy Johns with Number 9 on wheat in hand, I have an epiphany. I can’t wait for the Master Barista to feel sorry for my broom-pushing ass. Only a “feel sorry” would wait and pray that someone takes me under their wing. I gotta hustle yo!
That night, I put together a list, and the next morning, I present the following to the Master Barista.
My dream is to become just like you. You have an important job and I admire what you do. You make the customer’s day start off on the right foot every morning with their fix of caffeine. All our customers like, admire, and tip you. They feel important around you when you remember their names and their drinks. You are a badass Master Barista.” (A little suck-up never hurts).
The Milestones needed to hit the goal
“My goal is to get off the rented mule program fetching sandwiches and become a “Barista in training”. In an effort to become the Barista in training, I am going to do the following and hope this puts me on the path to becoming a Barista.”
- Read the book “Barista for dummies” over the next 10 days.
- Memorize 10 customers’ names and their drinks in the next 20 days.
- Familiarize myself with all the pastries we have and their calorie count in the next 30 days.
- I am going to memorize all the drinks that we make from Americano to Double Mocha with an extra Splenda and no whip AND THEIR PRICES in the next 40 days.
The business logic
“Master Barista, if I get onto the path of becoming a barista, you could take a three-day weekend and have a backup (that’s the business case for this goal). I think the above are important steps to becoming a Barista in training. If I do the above 4 things, would that QUALIFY me for the title of Barista in training if a position were to open?”
Manager / Employee Negotiation
Master Barista looks at me shaking his head side to side.
“Newb, I like your moxie. You got heart kid, and you are on the right path, but you got a few of these wrong and obviously, you have a lot to learn. Let me see that list.”
- “Barista for dummies. . . Check, I like it.”
- “10 customers’ names and drinks in 20 days? We get 300 customers a day. How about 20 names and their drinks this week. At your rate, it will take you over a month.”
- “Skip number 2 and that calorie-counting bull shit. If our customers knew how many calories were in an apple fritter or the pumpkin spice bread, we would lose out on a high-margin item that requires no work to serve. 86 that!”
- “You need to memorize the names of the coffee blends we sell and their characteristics in the next 2 weeks. I want you to know what coffees are fruity, which are from Africa, and which are good for drip vs. espresso.”
“You do all that and then we can THINK about calling you a barista in training. Don’t be thinking you are going to be touching any espresso machines! Got it, coffee boy?”
Email confirmation to your Manager
My plan in place, I update the list and send an email confirmation with the revised list to the Barista AKA, the manager. It reads something like:
Thanks for taking the time to talk about my Coffee Career here at Acme Coffee Haus. I am excited. Just to confirm, I am going to do the following over the next 40 days and then I will qualify for being a Barista in training. I am going to:
- Read the book “Barista for dummies” over the next 10 days.
- Memorize 20 customers’ names and their drinks in the next 5 days.
- Learn all the drinks that we make from Americano to Double Mocha with an extra Splenda and 2X whip AND THEIR PRICES in the next 40 days.
- I am going to memorize the names of the coffee blends we sell and their characteristics in the next 2 weeks. I will explain what coffees are fruity, which are from Africa, and which are good for drip vs. espresso.
Over the next 40 days, I send the Barista, AKA my manager a weekly update on my progress. After 2 weeks, a progress report might look like:
Barista, just a quick update on my progress towards my goal of becoming a barista in training.
- Goal: Read the book “Barista for dummies” over the next 10 days.
- I have read the first 4 chapters and have 3 to go. I learned the history of coffee and the different styles of espresso machines on the market. It’s a great book and is giving me background on coffee. I didn’t realize there was so much behind the culture.
- Goal: Learn 20 customers’ names and their drinks in the next 5 days.
- I have surpassed this goal and am now working on 40 customer names and their drinks. It’s cool to be able to greet customers by name when they come in! Watch and count my peeps tomorrow morning!
- Goal: Familiarize myself with all the drinks that we make from Americano to Double Mocha with an extra Splenda and no whip, AND THEIR PRICES in the next 40 days.
- This is done and was relatively easy because all the drinks build off each other. I get the pricing structure now. Ready to be tested.
- Goal: I am going to memorize the names of the coffee blends we sell and their characteristics in the next 2 weeks. I will explain what coffees are fruity, which are from Africa, and which are good for drip vs. espresso.
- I am still working on this one, but have itemized the blends of coffee we sell and categorized them by country of origin, flavor profile, and price. Still working and tasting the various ways the different coffee is prepared but I still have a few weeks and am confident I will pass your test.
For the record, at the end of the 40 days, you just wrote your own review. Your manager can cut and paste what you accomplished straight into your review.
The pressure is now on the manager
The Barista didn’t think I was going to follow through with my professional goals. He thought I was going to give up or quit. Suddenly, he realizes he is going to have some pressure on his hands. The closer I get to finishing this list, the more pressure there will be to find me a Barista in Training slot.
- My boss, the Master Barista knows the qualifications for the job “Barista in training”.
- The Master Barista knows – “that I know”, we agreed to the qualification of the job “Barista in training”. By his own words, “I will be qualified.”
- I backed him into a corner. Master Barista realizes he made an informal commitment and unless he wants to look like an ass, he is going to be training a barista, ME! He won’t have an excuse that I am not qualified because of the first two bullets.
- He also realizes that he has someone who is serious about becoming a barista and is willing to put in the time and effort.
The pressure pays off
Over the next 2 months, I get to touch the espresso machine, I get to steam milk and I get to serve drinks. I even get a flat brim baseball cap with the logo. We see a couple of coffee boys and girls come through and most quit after a week of cleaning toilets. But there is this one young kid that seems to really want it. . . I think I need someone to fetch me a Jimmy Johns.
Who schooled who?
Interestingly, I observe the Master Barista approach the Master Coffee Roaster and say:
“Master Coffee Roaster, my professional goal is to become just like you. You have an important job and I admire what you do. You make people’s day start off on the right foot every morning with their fix of java. Customers might not know who you are, but everything revolves around you. The baristas wouldn’t be anything without your skill as a roaster and that expensive machine wouldn’t be worth squat without your discerning nose. You are a bad ass Master Coffee Roaster.”
My new professional goal
“My professional goal is to get off this barista job and not have to talk with customers. In an effort to become a Coffee Roaster in training, I am going to do the following and hope this puts me on the path to becoming a Coffee Roaster like you. . . .”
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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