Are you smart enough to be a U.S. citizen?

I've often heard the joke that the U.S. citizenship test is so hard that most Americans couldn't pass it. It's kind of funny, but it is also a little disturbing. The History Channel has set up an interactive, multiple choice version of the citizenship test on their website so people can try it out and see if they really are smart enough to be a U.S. citizen. I took their full 96 question version and am happy to say I got 95 out of 96 questions right. Thank goodness I don't have to move out of the country! Try it out for yourself here.

How is the U.S. citizenship test relevant to performance? Like the questions on the quiz, we've probably all been schooled on our company's policies and procedures at some point in time. We risk forgetting about these policies and procedures if we aren't reminded of them or haven't made them a habit. In other words, your most seasoned, veteran employees may be most at risk for not being smart enough to be your employee.

What can be done?

A few simple, but often overlooked tips should do the trick.

  1. Never assume that anyone is performing correctly.  Observe and monitor every employee's performance from time to time.
  2. Provide "refresher" opportunities on important policies, procedures, or product information. I've often made this type of knowledge into a quiz game where employees could earn small prizes or take turns quizzing each other.
  3. Don't overlook poor performance.  Do something about it immediately, before it becomes a bad habit.

Easy enough, right? Sure it is, but things are easier said than done. Good luck keeping your employees smart enough to be your employees.