Leadership / Communication / Development

Leadership Moment — 20 Jul 22

Communication, communication, communication.

Mark McMillion
4 min readJul 21, 2022

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Photo by dankeck, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This evening my family and I went to Wendy’s for dinner. The young man taking our order was clearly new to the position and struggling with English. I had the perception he was pretty sharp but the job was really challenging him.

One of my sons likes his hamburgers plain, no cheese, no condiments — just plain. The guy was trying to mentally process what he meant and enter it into the system. My son kept repeating it, rapid-fire, trying to make certain the cashier understood it.

Having dealt extensively with people speaking English as a second language in my previous life as an Army officer, I cut my son off to allow the guy to mentally process the order. He got it right.

Later, I explained to my son that when dealing with someone working in their non-native language, instead of repeating the same thing over and over again, they need a second or three to process the information. He got it.

The restaurant was busy but fully staffed. They messed up our order twice and finally my wife just ate what they gave her instead of trying for the trifecta. On the receipt, our order was correct — the burger flipper messed it up. When I went back the second time, I overheard her complain bitterly that no one was telling her what the correct order was.

I don’t know much about their systems but it seemed pretty clear to me she was overwhelmed and making mistakes, as people do in those circumstances with minimal training. Unfortunately, the manager didn’t seem well trained either.

She told the cashier three times he needed to tell the customers their order number. She wasn’t looking at him when she said it or she would have seen his look of confusion. The third time, he looked at the menu trying to map her guidance to the combo numbers. It didn’t make sense to him.

When I ordered our dessert (Frosties, of course), I showed him my receipt and the order number to illustrate what the manager was trying to communication. By this point, there was no one behind me in line.

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Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.