the best job interview question
Imagine you are a dishwasher at a five star hotel, working the sink late one night, sweating rivers. The dishes are stacked high and it looks like it would take you forever to get them all done. Suddenly, your boss walks by in his tuxedo, gives out a smile and says “Keep up the good work, buddy.” You’d probably think that’s about as helpful as the crusty brownie stuck to the plate. But, what if your boss walked up to you and said, “Hey, it looks like you’ve got a ton going on. Can I lend you a hand?” How would that be for a motivation?
The Best Job Interview Question
“How would you motivate the dishwasher?”
In other words, how do you lead and motivate an operation from the ground up?
This is a brilliant question often asked in the hospitality sector by recruiters to get a read on the management skills of their candidates. This question has only one right answer: The best motivational factor for employees in any organization is to see their own boss as motivated for work as them. In other words, a good manager is the one who rolls up his sleeves and supports his staff, when needed.
Doing It Right
The ‘dishwasher mantra’ holds true even more to smaller businesses and startups in Nepal, where CEO’s are not only the managers but also call operators or even delivery boys!
Manohar Adhikari, CEO of foodmandu.com, recalls that he used to work deliveries on his way home even one year after the founding of his food delivery business. Three years on and Manohar still finds himself doing small tasks around office when required – tasks that are often considered ‘menial’ and ‘unreserved’ for most managers.
“I pick up phone calls, take orders and look into other technical aspects around the office, at times of crisis. Sometimes a staff member could be away for lunch or sometimes the traffic of orders just becomes so overwhelming for the staff that I have to jump in.”, he describes.
Manohar feels that such a work culture not only improves the productivity of his employees but also boosts their morale during tough times. He says when managers dig in and offer help to their employees rather than mutter “good job,” they’ll build a sense of respect and engagement.
“Despite having allocated positions, every one of us has each other’s back covered. It also inspires a team spirit in the office and improves relations between staff members,” he says.
Work is work!
Motivating employees has still not come under the priority of most Nepali businesses these days. The notion of ‘dirty’ tasks and ‘menial’ jobs still exists in a society where workers are exploited and CEO’s or the Managers of a company are revered for their social status.
Not giving into such a trend is another entrepreneur, Pradeep Man Shakya, the founder of Juju T-shirts. Having been into the garment business for more than a decade before Juju, Pradeep is usually so much embroiled at his work that he identifies no such hierarchy of workers in his business. Work is work, he says.
“People here don’t like to work as gardeners or waiters but they will do anything for money if they get a chance to work abroad. This disappoints me. It’s just how our society perceives some tasks to be reserved for a certain class of workers owing to social stigma.”
Before Juju and during his garment industry years, Pradeep used to pull out several all-nighters with his staff packaging his products and moving the cartons for delivery.
“It is a labor-oriented business. So, you cannot shy away from doing a particular task. When times are tough, I and my staff are all in it together; which is why, it’s been more than ten years, I still have not experienced any labor problems. You just have to lead by example, and your staff will follow,” Pradeep adds.
But, I’m the CEO!
‘CEO’ has become an all too fancy term for most Nepali entrepreneurs, especially with the start-up fad taking grip across the country. It’s easy to be deluded by the stereotype of a start-up CEO who suits up every day and acts bossy.
The earlier accounts from some successful Nepali entrepreneurs clearly illustrate that one can’t act like a big shot when everyone else is working at full capacity doing their job. One has to jump in when the grunt work is overwhelming the staff roll up sleeves and get to work.
This goes to all the budding CEOs out there who want a dedicated pool of staff: Remember no matter what you do, find a way to help out to and strengthen the DIY (Do It Yourself) culture in your office. Learn to motivate your ‘dishwasher’. This lesson applies not just to business leaders but all of those in leadership and management roles.