January Special Days
January 8-14 – Pizza Week
January 9 – Dance Day
Email TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. for ideas on how to celebrate any of these days.
Recruit Like Trader Joe’s
The #3 most popular New Year’s resolution is to find a new job. Last January 3, over 73,000 people posted their resume on Monster.com alone! Don’t want these people to be your very best staff? Recruit like Trader Joe’s does:
When Trader Joe’s, the quirky specialty grocer from Southern California, goes shopping for new employees, it looks for more than generic clerks. While retail experience is a plus, what really impresses managers is a helpful, friendly attitude. Job postings suggest that prospective employees should be ambitious and possess qualities that might apply equally to a cruise ship crew: outgoing, engaging, upbeat, fun-loving and adventurous.
Mark Mallinger, director of the MBA program at Pepperdine University, has studied Trader Joe’s. He recalls a conversation with the company’s former CEO, John Shields, about how managers interviewing job applicants watch for character clues. "John Shields told me that in the first interview, if they [the applicants] don’t smile within the first 30 seconds, they are gone."
The trademark smiling stock clerks and cashiers decked out in Hawaiian shirts can now be found in Trader Joe’s stores from the West Coast to New England. And more are on the way. From its humble beginnings as a regional hybrid convenience store, Trader Joe’s has grown into a $3-billion-a-year national chain with 217 stores. It is adding 8 to 25 stores a year, all stocked with an eclectic selection of bargain gourmet-style foods, wines and health-food supplements.
One of the other secrets to Trader Joe’s success: the upbeat employees who wander the aisles, eager to chat about the latest Brie or the newest flavor of hummus. "Probably the most important thing they do is generate a very engaging experience between the customer and the employee," says Bill Bishop, president of Willard Bishop Consulting in Barrington, Illinois. Bishop and several other consultants and analysts say the upbeat, informal interaction sets Trader Joe’s apart from the rest of the grocery industry and serves as a powerful marketing tool.
But the glue that holds the system together is generous compensation. Job postings indicate that part-time clerks earn from $8 to $12 an hour. Full-time employees, who typically work 47.5 hours a week, earn an average $40,150 in the first year, according to the company’s postings. That equals $16 an hour, well above the $12 average pay in the retail industry, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. These employees also earn an average annual bonus of $950 and $6,300 in retirement-plan contributions as well. It adds up to an average total package of $47,000 a year.
For assistant store managers, the average compensation package works out to $94,000 a year. Store managers get an average compensation package of $132,000, an amount that one analyst put on a par with what the manager of a giant Wal-Mart might make running a store that probably grosses six or seven times what a Trader Joe’s takes in.
How can such small stores afford such big salaries? The answer is that the cheerful and helpful clerks also know how to move groceries, which boosts margins. Trader Joe’s total sales at about 200 stores works out to approximately $15 million per store. With an average 10,000 square feet per store, that means each store generates an average $1,500 in sales per square foot. Compare that to Whole Foods, the profitable organic-food chain that offers some similar products but typically at higher prices. Whole Foods generates about $750 per square foot in sales, about half the Trader Joe’s rate.
Trader Joe’s differs from Whole Foods and other grocers in another way. Its stock is constantly changing as its buyers travel the globe looking for new and interesting products that can be brought back, packaged and sold profitably at a relatively low price. To make sure that workers keep up with the stock, stores hold weekly tastings for employees to sample the latest goods. "After the store closed, we would try everything from the wine to frozen pizza to candy," says Melody Derloshon, a former Trader Joe’s stock clerk who worked in a Northern California store. "It was like a buffet table." Workers also get a 10% store discount, which serves as both an added bonus and an inducement to keep employees acquainted with the products. Trader Joe’s workers give the impression that they enjoy being at the stores, which suggests to customers that they should get with it and have some fun, too.
Today, Trader Joe’s strives to hire employees who understand the importance of a sunny disposition and appreciate the company’s products. The company’s job postings use exclamation points to tip off applicants about the need for enthusiasm. One recent Internet posting began like this:
Derloshon recalls that her job interview was "very informal, like a casual conversation. They wanted to know why I wanted the job, what could I bring to the store, am I familiar with the products. They definitely take a second look at a person who has good eye contact and is upbeat."
Derloshon was one of Trader Joe’s part-time workers, who account for 75% of the company’s workforce. Applicants for full-time positions are more thoroughly vetted. The job application requires a cover letter that must include descriptions of a favorite Trader Joe’s product and the store where the applicant typically shops. The message: if you aren’t familiar with Trader Joe’s and can’t make a convincing pitch for what’s good about the stores and the products inside, Trader Joe’s isn’t interested in you.
It seems like a very informal system, but it’s really a carefully crafted system. Evidence: George Whalin, president and CEO of Retail Management Consultants in San Marcos, California, has been a fan of Trader Joe’s for years. He shops at a local Trader Joe’s and frequently mentions the company in his talks to retailers. At one recent conference in Phoenix, he brought bottles of wine from Trader Joe’s to use as props and, while there, visited a local store. "It was the same, this sort of family atmosphere, everybody talking to the cashier, everybody talking to each other."
Adapted from Workforce Management, September 2004
Charles Schultz Philosophy
You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read the questions straight through, and you'll get the point.
1. Name the 5 wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last 5 Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last 5 winners of the Miss America contest.
4. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.
HOW DID YOU DO?
The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here are some additional questions. See how you do on these:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name 3 friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name 5 people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of 5 people you enjoy spending time with.
The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.
Character — Do Your Staff Have It?
Henry Cloud, author of Integrity, says there are 6 Essential Areas of Character:
See how many you can pick out in this story from the Houston
By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play. But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap -it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do. People who were there that night thought to themselves: "We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage - to either find another violin or else find another string for this one."
But he didn't. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. You could see him modulating, changing, recomposing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.
When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done. He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said, not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone, "You know, sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left."
What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind ever since I heard it. And who knows? Perhaps that is the [way] of life - not just for artists but for all of us. It is a reminder that often our self-limiting beliefs and assumptions prevent us from making music with our gifts, talents, abilities, passions, and experiences – and using these requires all 6 areas of character. – Jack Riemer, Houston Chronicle
Share this with each of your staff — it’s a great discussion starter for performance in a New Year.
Staff Training: A Necessity and An Encouraging True Story
Bruce Bruinsma, Envoy Financial, learned that training is important for staff and for those served. Listen as Bruce tells how they discovered this & took action that you can too:
"Training is important for staff and for those served. Unfortunately, we as leaders are often convinced that our staff simply "know what to do." The fact is that we are wrong! Many of our staff are crying out for help. Some of those we serve are crying out too as they receive less than our best service and support.
Here is part of the Envoy story. Hopefully it will encourage you, challenge you and raise the standard for all of us as we serve our various ministry groups.
The issue of training, or perhaps the lack of it, was brought to Envoy’s attention in two ways, both by our staff. First, we had more turnover than we thought healthy. Getting new staff up to speed was often a six month or more process. This was an expensive process and we were heartbroken when someone left. We knew that another 6 month investment lay ahead of us. Time consuming, somewhat frustrating, and certainly a drain on ministry resources was the reality.
We were thinking of hiring a consultant to help us evaluate the situation when we became aware of the internal survey available through the Best Christian Workplaces program. For a nominal cost our staff would be surveyed, their privacy assured and the feedback would be crisp and clear. We signed up and made it available to our staff to complete. Our staff was willing to provide insightful feedback because the process was Internet efficient and totally confidential. Then we received the written and oral feedback.
One important feedback component was their frustration with their lack of knowledge, lack of understanding, about how they fit into the work of the total ministry. We also learned that they thought the jobs too difficult to perform well with the training they received. They too thought the learning curve too steep and the process too long. They commented, ‘We want to do a great job, but need more help to do it.’ Another commented, ‘Please help us to be more productive sooner.’ We did not expect either response but it rang true right away.
One of the outputs of this survey process is to be part of the database to select the top Christian Workplaces in the country. Needless to say, with the issues raised, we were not listed among those top workplaces. I was concerned and our Executive Director, Bethany Palmer was upset. One of Bethany's great assets is that when faced with a challenge, she is not happy until the issue is addressed, a plan of action identified, and the solution implemented. She made these results her management issue and determined to take whatever action required, even if massive, to solve it.
Progress needs a champion and change requires one. Bethany proceeded to actively interview and invest significant sit-time with a number of staff as they performed their jobs. As one staff position was not filled, she adopted a hands-on -- her hands-on -- approach to determining what was needed for that position, what training did exist, and most importantly what training did not. I believe her exact quote was, ‘Bruce, I'm totally shocked and blown away.’ The tools to train were sparse, the information anecdotal, it was also general and not specific. As a matter of fact, it sometimes conflicted with other activities in the ministry. We had carefully compartmentalized our ministry positions. Bethany learned that while a compartmentalized approach is an efficient one, it is seriously flawed if each department is not really clear about how it impacts the work flow of other departments. Further, if each person does not truly understand both the Big Ministry Picture as well as the key details of their own position, frustration is the only reasonable result. With a clear picture in front of her, now the issue was ‘what to do’?
The practical reality of having to train a new staff person for that vacant position provided the impetus to find the solution. Bethany started by making a complete and detailed list of what the position required. This then became the outline of what the new person was going to need to know in order to ‘learn’ the new job.
She was amazed at the complexity, and kept sending me copies of an ever expanding list of topics. I think my comment was, ‘when does the list stop?’ I remember the day she called and said she thought she knew the answer to how many topics to include, it was 72. ‘Seventy two!,’ I remember exclaiming. ‘How are you going to train on all of these?’ Her answer was, ‘I'm not sure, it seems like a lot, but that is what’s needed, just for this one position.’ I certainly was sure I was not excited about the potential impact of those last five words, ‘Just for this one position.’
She called again a few days later with the next insight. ‘I think we can use PowerPoint with voice over to present the training material. One PowerPoint presentation for each of the subjects they need to learn.
I asked, ‘How will we know they have really learned the material?’ She replied, ‘A quiz after each presentation will make sure the learning is taking place, and a discussion after each broad area will allow feedback for both of us. Maybe we will need an application section as part of the training too.’
Without stretching the story out too long, Bethany literally dove into the project. She learned everything there was to know about the position. This hands-on approach allowed her to understand where the position activities can be streamlined and made more efficient. Also, she discovered where there was position overlap
Further insights came as she moved from one department and position to another. She learned that many of the issues were the same and the solutions were too. Along the way she also identified the Building Block approach. The Building Block approach of moving from the Global - 30,000 foot view - to the Large Area - 10,000 foot view, to the Departmental and then to the Job Specific - 10,000 feet was a key insight. It solved the problem of each department understanding the Big Picture as well as the role of departments as they interface with each other. This solution required Total Ministry training for all. Then the 20,000 foot view for all in each division. When completed there are over 900 training modules covering our total ministry. Fortunately no one person, other than Bethany, had to connect with all of them. But it was clearly important for each current staff member to connect with all that relate to them, from the Global to the Specific.
To accomplish this ministry wide transformation, we then undertook a ministry wide program of having each staff member learn with approximately 4 modules per week and answer a brief quiz about each of them. This took about 22 weeks to fully implement. It goes with saying that this was a major ministry-wide commitment!
At that, Bethany personally reviewed each quiz and commented where appropriate. This was a further commitment to completing the task and implementing the solution. A champion crosses the finish line. It was only by insisting that each person participate that we had any chance of seriously impacting our culture. Bethany asked me for my full support of this effort, and she gladly got it.
We now have almost 900 ministry training PowerPoint presentations with voice over. I'd like to say she is done, but there are about 60 more to do. Will the project ever be over? Not likely. There are always new subjects and new understanding of old subjects. However, I believe we can now ‘declare victory’.
Does a positive and happy staff, reduced turnover, increased efficiency, better client or participant service and decreased costs sound like a good enough result? Let me tell you how the story plays out:
Happy Staff: Walking around our offices today is a sheer joy. An ‘excited, ministry engaged, and hard-working staff’ are the observations offered by others who come to see how we implement our ministry systems. As a leader, ministry is now more fun and seems to reflect the ‘heart of God’ in all that we do. Those signs of frustration are mostly gone. Too short a day seems to be the cause of any that are left, or when the server goes down, or the contact software we use needs to be reconfigured. A recent visitor asked, ‘How do you develop a staff with such positive attitudes?’ My answer is, ‘God created them and we support and train them!’
Better Service: Our staff has better answers to more questions than ever before. They have a new confidence that they can quickly find out the answer if they do not know it. Whether it is the CMO (Christian Ministry Organization) department dealing with the hundreds of Christian Ministry Organizations we serve or the CMP (Christian Ministry Professional or Participant) department dealing with the thousands of Christian Ministry Participants, they all have a great sense of Total Ministry. In addition, they have an understanding of all the departments who serve a similar part of the marketplace, the different functions within their department, or their specific job.
Reduced Turnover: Now when someone does leave our ministry, it is for positive reasons in their life, rather than frustration with their job. They evidence being truly sorry to leave, and we are hearing the language of longer term commitments by those who are with us.
Increased Efficiency: In one department we had a 20% solution rate. It is now closer to 80% and it is heading toward the 90%, our goal. In another, we had resistance to 25 calls a week completed, and now are handling 35 with greater ease than 20 before.
Decreased Cost: Under our old model, loosely defined, it would take a good 6 months to get someone up to speed. At least what we thought was ‘up to speed’. Now we see new staff performing effectively, certainly with some more to learn from practical experience, at the 2 month mark.
We know that the definition of ministry is ‘changed lives’. Our external goal is to change people’s vision of personal stewardship and provide the practical tools to do it. We did not realize that there was an additional group of people whose lives needed changing too, those of our staff. We now realize in a new way, that the role of our ministry is to encourage staff and provide the tools allowing them to impact others.
Our training, using current and easy to use technology and a passion for ‘changing lives’ has played itself out in so many positive ways in our ministry. Hopefully, our story will encourage you in your leadership position at your ministry.
I almost forgot to mention: As a result of the latest internal audit using the Best Christian Workplaces, we were selected as one of top 40 Christian places to work in the country. An amazing turnaround, thanks to Bethany and our staff, and to God be the Glory, great things He has done!"
From a series of 4 articles by Bruce Bruinsma, Envoy Financial, 888-879-1376. Get more details on their training @ http://18.104.22.168/CMOPages/CMA_Denver/CMA_Denver_Page.html
Keeping Tech Workers Motivated Keeps Them
Paul Glen, author of Leading Geeks: How to Lead and Manage People Who Deliver Technology, says, "Tech staff are inspired mostly by intrinsic motivators, which come from loving the work itself and wanting to do it well, much like painters and composers, not extrinsic motivators like bonuses & bigger offices." The goal for managers, then, is not to motivate tech staff but instead to create an environment in which they motivate themselves. "What can you do to make a seed grow?" Glen says. "Nothing. But you can create a setting in which it's likely to grow."
Here are some principles that will help you create an environment in which tech staff are likely to blossom:
Tech staff need to be included in decisions that affect their jobs
Tech staff need consistency
Tech staff need autonomy
Tech staff need to be better businesspeople
"Certain aspects of technology are dissimilar to other types of jobs, but I'm not a big believer that IT can continue to treat itself as completely different," says Diane Morello, vice president and research director at Gartner. "We need to get to the point where IT is so integrated in the business that it doesn't hold itself out as separate."
"Some people believe that 15 or 20 years from now, IT and business will be indistinguishable in some areas," she says. In today's typical IT organization, she notes, perhaps 20% of employees are highly knowledgeable about business. She believes that this number needs to grow to 40 or 50% in the next 10 years.
Business executives need to gain an understanding of, and interest in,
Tech staff need to know the greater meaning of their work
Adapted from Profit, November 2006
January 11-14, 2007
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April 30-May 3, 2007
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Set a reminder to visit http://www.thebreastcancersite.com daily and click this button to help underprivileged women get mammograms.
Global Volunteers (http://www.globalvolunteers.org)
Responsibly Dispose of Your Old Electronics
Recycle PCs, cell phones, printers, CDs diskettes, etc., with GreenDisk. For $29.95, they send a 70-pound-capacity box.When it’s full, you download postage from their website and ship it back. Your “junk” then goes to workshops for the disabled and are refurbished. http://www.greendisk.com
Recycle PCs and other computer products at Hewlett Packard and Dell. See their websites for details.
Find local Electronics recyclers at http://www.earth911.org and http://www.ebay.com/rethink