This installment of Lean FROYO is all about protecting the most important asset of any business.....the people you were smart enough to bring in and make part of your life....your employees!!!
My wife of 34 years opened her frozen yogurt shop 6 years ago, and before she did, she heard all of the horror stories about how hard it is to keep reliable people engaged in "that kind of business."
"You'd better watch them like a hawk or they will rob you blind." "Hope you are ready to live there, because kids are so unreliable. They don't even show up half the time." Etc. etc.......you get the point. Not to mention the average tenure is measured in months, not years. Gloria's goal is to make her shop her employee's best first job ever!!
Now two assumptions that we need to make if we want to have any chance at all to create a culture of continuous improvement and enjoy the benefits of working in a true learning organization: people are smart and people care. Period. The End. You need to believe that to your core. And they are and they do. When mistakes happen, assume YOU didn't train them well enough, or YOU simply didn't communicate the importance well enough. Demonstrate trust and work to continually develop people, and you will be amazed at just how smart they are and how much they do care. After all, you were smart enough to hire them, right?
The most feedback Gloria receives from customers is how great these kids are. She never lets one of their birthdays go by without a hug, a gift and a card. She holds regular training meetings followed by pizza. She is constantly finding out their opinions regarding the best number of people to man the store and how much inventory to keep. Her weekly payroll and food costs have been cut in half thanks to their thinking. By going to GEMBA, showing respect and asking questions, the team has figured out how to clean the 7 froyo machines and close the store at night in half the time. She never asks them to do anything she doesn't do herself. In return, she has been able to raise their pay twice. When mistakes occur, re-train.....the five whys not the five whos!
My wife also officiates women's college lacrosse, and she is able to go do her games without a worry or a phone call. The store is immaculate, and her customers leave with a smile.
Continuously develop your people and partners. I couldn't have done it better myself.