Few things are as important in our mock trials or focus groups as recording the presentations and, more importantly, the deliberations or participant discussions. We’re not in the video production business, but it sometimes seems that way because we have to capture the video, and particularly, audio, from our research sessions. This is a pretty fundamental task for our research assistants. As the 2nd in the series of “You will get fired if,” I wanted to bring up this point because, as obvious as it seems to me, and I hope most people, the failure to do a fundamental part of one’s job will get one fired. We have had a few instances when staff have failed on this task. Usually it lasts only a few minutes and we’re able to pick up where the jurors are, or otherwise, capture what was going on at the time. But this is one of those tasks that seems so straightforward, it is shocking when an employee fails at this. Trying to “recover” from such an error is tricky, and clients may well become aware there is a “camera problem” when it is really a camera operator problem. Client reactions are a major part of managing employees at many levels, but especially on important tasks. Whatever business one is in, whatever services or products one offers, ensuring the basics are covered is job 1. Unfortunately, the reality of the importance of some tasks is not as well understood by some and thus, you will be fired if you don’t press record!
Oh my! Words I never want to hear during a mock trial, focus group, or any other type of research for a client are “Dr. Pigott, I forgot to press record when the mock jurors started deliberating.” I particularly dislike hearing these words via a walkie-talkie while I am in the presence of the clients on whose case my incompetent employee has failed to press “record” on one of my video cameras. My first reaction, after running out of the observation room and thus, out of the client’s earshot, is to break out in a cold sweat. Then, remembering the maxim, “Never let ‘em see you sweat,” I collect myself and ask my employee to explain what happened, all the while with the mock jurors staring in disbelief at the dramatic scene unfolding before them. A research day is never the time to counsel errant employees. There is too much to be done on behalf of Magnus’ clients, who are paying us a sizable sum of money to help them (including by providing them with a video and audio recording of the proceedings). Fortunately for me, I think fast and I can usually recover from this type of situation, often preventing the client from knowing anything is amiss. I have also been fortunate in that there have only been 3 occasions when an employee forgot to record the mock jury deliberations (fortunately, we caught each of these in time to pick up the recording even if a few minutes late). Even though it is a rare occurrence, given how many mock juries and focus groups my research team and I have conducted, I always inform new employees that the surest way for them to be fired is to forget to record anything they are supposed to record. This is a both guarantee and a reality of termination of employment at Magnus.