Making it Not Suck

I moved this weekend. Even if we left out the rain, picking up two large pieces of furniture from Craigslist, and the moving van parking nightmare that is DC, it still really sucked.

I also signed up for a gym membership. I get 3 free personal training sessions. When the trainer asks what my goal is, it will be “making moving only kind of suck.”

Some things will just always suck. Like moving. I think that’s important to realize as a learning and development professional. We can’t make customer service reps love getting yelled at over the phone, or get warehouse employees look forward to back-breaking work day in and day out, but we can make it suck less. Learning how to mitigate angry customers and how to lift boxes properly won’t make them love their jobs, but it will make it a little more bearable.

And we should be real with learners. We shouldn’t expect people to love every facet of their job. Kathy Sierra in her book Badass: Making Users Awesome even quotes research that shows that if trainers say upfront, “this is going to suck for a while,” people are more likely to actually work at getting better at whatever the task is.

(Highly recommended book, by the way.)

If you’re approached with a project to help prevent high turnover in a call center, should you completely revamp the program and spend a year on thorough training? Or should you focus on making the job suck less first, and then focus on larger change management? The answer is different for every situation, but it’s something to keep in mind.

What can you do to make someone’s job suck a little less?