My husband and I spend a fair amount of time filming our TV show, Ancient Jewish Wisdom on the TCT network. We used to work on our set in Marion, IL, but recently we started taping in the Akron, OH studio.
Every time we have been there, we interact with a large number of station employees. Some make up the camera crew, some direct the show, while others are involved with administration or post-production work. The employees span the spectrum of age, race and gender. To be honest, we are not an easy couple to host. Anytime we spend the day there, TCT asks someone to drive half an hour to pick up and bring kosher food to us.
Here is what I have noticed. Every person we meet is unfailingly competent, cheerful and willing to go the extra mile to do their own job as well as any other task that is needed. We are very often there from early in the morning until late afternoon. Many days when we leave the building, staff that has been there with us from the morning is setting up for an evening event. Yet, the hard-working professionalism and downright niceness never flag.
We don’t take this for granted. Being responsible and cheerful as you work is not universal. For example, among the questions I never imagined myself asking my daughter is this one: “Where did you learn to call in if you were going to miss work?” Yet, after hearing two stories from friends about well-educated, aspiring employees who stayed home because of family issues and never thought to tell their employers that they wouldn’t be in, I asked my well-educated, aspiring daughter exactly that question.
I know where she learned how to answer the phone in a professional manner. I know where she learned to write a thank-you note for a gift. I know where she learned not to rush past exiting passengers when elevator doors open. I taught her all those things. But I do not ever remember mentioning that you do not miss work without notifying your boss. It never crossed my mind that it needed teaching.
Yet, it seems that many of her generation thinks it fine not to show up and not to respond to a boss’s call or email, and assume that you still have a job as long as you provide a reasonable explanation for your absence upon your return to work. Perhaps they are right. In both the cases of which I am aware, the employers explained future expectations, but tolerated the egregious behavior. I can only assume this was because they had no hope of greater ‘soft skills’ from a new hire.
In the words of Cindy Herold who runs a restaurant near Washington, “I can teach somebody how to slice and dice onions. I can teach somebody how to cook a soup. But it’s hard to teach someone normal manners, or what you consider work ethic.” A LinkedIn study of 291 hiring managers found that more than half of them felt that the absence of soft skills was hindering their company’s productivity.
I am not in favor of increasing the minimum wage. I think that, ‘free college for everyone,’ is a recipe for disaster. I deplore politically correct laws that make you walk on eggshells while interviewing prospects. Not one of these ideas will add to most young person’s chances of getting and keeping a job. Restoring manners and responsibility to an elevated place in society will. If I was a parent or teacher living near a TCT studio, I would encourage the young people in my care to race over to those studios and offer to work for free. The soft skills they will observe around them, along with the practical technical skills they will be taught, may make the difference in how much they earn for decades to come.
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