Dear Aunty B,
I just hired a new staff member, Gen-Y, of course. Her duties include some menial tasks: she is expected to get the coffee in the morning, keep the kitchen clean, and sweep the office occasionally to pick up stray glasses. She has refused to do any of these chores and says that although she is quite happy to buy the fruit every week, it has to be organic. What do I do? Do I have to get my own coffee, live in a pigsty and eat early rotting fruit?
Dear Gillian F,
Have you ever heard of a job description? Duh! They are really handy things that are your insurance policy against these sticky situations. I suggest you write up a proper job description for your new recruit listing the tasks she is expected to do: answer phones, mail, data entry, email management, stationery, footy tipping management, Melbourne Cup sweep, going away cards, keeping kitchen tidy, etc. If you had done this BEFORE the job interview and given her the description AT the interview it would not be a problem.
Feral office kitchens are genuinely bad for morale. No matter how many abusive/kind/witty notes you put up about the maid being on leave and there is no such thing as the dishwashing fairy, kitchens are never clean unless this task is assigned to someone.
These jobs are critical, valuable and someone has got to do them. If you want her to get coffee in the morning and keep the kitchen clean, you need to COMMUNICATE THIS. I am assuming you understand that as a manager, it is your responsibility to communicate to staff what their job entails.
You could also let her know that keeping the kitchen clean and collecting coffee cups around the office is a great way to get to know staff (who will always be nice to someone who collects their cups). It’s networking 101, a task I myself volunteered for when I was starting out in a big office. It worked a treat (for the one day I did it.) You just have to promise me one thing: when you next hire a bloke for menial tasks, the kitchen round gets passed to him.
If your new recruit refuses to do these tasks, remind her that the kitchen/cup tasks should take no more than 10 minutes a day. Don’t take no for an answer. If she still refuses, tell her to go home and watch The Devil Wears Prada and see what a boss from hell is really like, and bring you a latte with one sugar first thing tomorrow. And what’s wrong with organic fruit? It’s good for you.