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41 Cent Leadership – A Penny is Worth 2 Cents?

You’ve got the four coins in your pocket.  The quarter, the dime, the nickel, and the penny all represent the diversity that you have on your team.  Consider this …

According to usmint.com, in 2011 a penny cost 2.41 cents to make.  The penny actually cost more than double to make versus its applied value!  Parenthetically, in that same year, the nickel cost 11.18 cents to manufacturer while the dime cost 5.65 cents and the quarter cost 11.14 cents.

Think about some of the people on your team that seem to be only bringing a “penny” of value to the organization.  Is it possible that there is more value there?  Is it just possible that, for whatever set of reasons, they could be producing at a higher level if we, as their managers, could unlock that potential within them?

I believe there are several ways that we might unlock more value in our team.  Among them, I’ve listed 4 below.

Clear Vision, Mission, and Job Expectations

Our team needs a clearly articulated organizational vision.  It needs to be more than just a framed saying hanging on the wall in the CEO’s office – it needs to be a living and breathing idea that shapes the strategy, processes, actions, and reactions within the organization.  Built upon that, our team needs a clear mission.  How does our department, team, division, or region contribute toward fulfilling that vision?  How does my immediate team contribute toward that overarching vision?  Finally, our team members need a clearly stated set of job expectations with outcomes.  This can take on different shapes, but they must understand the expectations and the measurements we are going to use to determine if they met the expectations.

Training and Resources

Just the other day I was walking my store with the manager, the district manager, regional vice president, vice president of Merchandising, and the CEO.  Now, you need to understand that our company has over 2000 stores and employs over 330,000 associates so this was a big deal that these folks were in our store.  As we were walking the store and introducing associates, our regional vice president began a conversation with a lot loader – one of the lowest paid positions in our team.  He asked him about his training.  He had just started with us maybe 2 weeks prior to this walk.  What did it involve?  Was there an orientation and computer training, a hands-on piece, etc.?  The young man answered no to every single question and nuance of the question!  I, as an assistant manager, was absolutely embarrassed.  This same scenario actually took place again when the RVP asked another associate the same set of questions – this time a cashier that had started with us approximately 3 weeks previous to this walk.  This walk was a big deal and our store passed with flying colors in most other metrics and inquisitions.  However, I took away from that walk that we had dropped the ball with those two young men.  There was training in place for them.  There is an orientation every weekend for our new associates.  There are trainers in place to help new associates learn their position and learn what resources are at their disposal to fulfill their job expectations.  We simply did not care enough for their well-being to take the time to walk them through those paces.  Instead, we were happy to fill a hole with a body.  Needless to say, that’s not the most effective way to build a team!

Genuine Care

Our people need to know that we care about them!  A few generations ago, this might not have been seen as too important.  People tended to fulfill directives from their leaders because they had the position of boss and that’s what you do when the boss gives instruction.  Those days are long behind us.  Today’s worker is looking to join a team where they feel like they belong.  If we are going to attract and retain the best talent out there, we need to build environments where people know that they matter!   They build that perception through our personal interaction, our communication, as well as our policy and procedure!

Commitment to Their Development 

Our people need an environment that is saturated with the purpose of opportunity to grow competencies and develop personally.  They need to know that their supervisors are committed to their growth and advancement.  What tools do you have in place for people to intentionally develop their skills?  What people on your team are wired to invest in others in a mentoring type relationship?  It is time to leverage some of your energy and resources toward enhancing this element of your organization if is not already in place and thriving!

Certainly not all “pennies” will respond to these four opportunities with increased productivity.  However, before we write off someone as just a “penny,” we might serve them well by taking a good look at our organization and seeing if there are some places where we can improve the health of the environment we provide.

 

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