When I took over as the manager of a Radio Shack some 25 years ago I thought my store was looking pretty good. Sales were strong – it was a good first three months.
My District Manager made his first visit to my store and I wasn’t very worried.
I was surprised when my District Manager rated the cleanliness of my store as "acceptable".
When I asked him why the score was marginal he told me, "because you don’t dust". I explained that we dusted every day! He called my young employees over and asked them if they were taught to dust. They both said no. My manager dismissed them and turned to me. I quickly started to explain that they were 19 and 20 years old and that they certainly knew how to dust!
"Why would you assume that?", he asked. Good question, I thought.
So the next morning we learned to dust. I showed them how you start at the top shelf, move electronics to one side, dust, move them to the other side and dust more. Then move down a shelf.
It took ten minutes to teach them but only one minute for me to realize that they truly did not know how to dust. In fact, they probably didn’t know how to do their laundry either!
But we never missed a perfect on cleanliness again – and I never made assumptions on what people should or should not know, or did or did not know.
I have no issues with teaching someone a simple thing such as dusting – once. If you’ve never been taught you cannot be expected to know.
So don’t assume people know things you think they should know. People only know things they have been taught. By themselves, or you, or someone else.
(And please, no jokes about dusting and my house. The fact I know how to dust doesn’t mean I like to dust. I also know how to remove human heart, but I doubt many would advocate me practicing that skill ad-hoc!)