Throughout college I delivered pizza for local restaurant in Siloam Springs. When I graduated from JBU, Valerie still had one more year to go, and so I stayed on and took over as the general manager at the restaurant. I had 14 team members who all had lifelong aspirations of making pizza for a living...not really. My boss defined success for me early on - make money. So, how did I invest my 60+ hours/week? I focused solely on areas that improved the results - intentional marketing, decreased labor/food costs, increase sales, etc. We developed a Hot & Ready $4.99 special called “Monday Madness” and it took off and was an incredible success. And, as long as my bottom-line looked solid and continued improved, as far as my boss and the owner was concerned - I was a very successful manager of my store.
It took me about six months to realize what I was creating. While we had improved sales by 60%, I noticed that the culture on my team had become disengaged, unhealthy, and detached both from the work and from each other. On one hand, all I heard from my boss was that I was “killing it” and to keep doing whatever I was doing. I was successfully managing the business. On the other hand, when I took a pulse-check of the attitude and atmosphere of the team - I suddenly felt like I was failing as a leader. Scratch that - I was full-on failling as a leader.
Have you been on a team like this before? Maybe you were the leader of the team or as a member of the team. It can be so easy to let results drive our definition of success, can’t it? Honestly, it would be a lot easier if that were the case. And yet - you just can't avoid the reality that there has to be people involved - and with that, relationships.
I wish I could have read The Secret back in those days. It would have given me so much clarity around this tension between valuing results and relationships. Here’s what Ken Blanchard says about this fourth secret:
VALUE RESULTS AND RELATIONSHIPS
Meaning: To generate positive, measurable results and cultivate great relationships with those you lead.
Principle behind the practice: Ultimate success always includes both people and performance.
Single-word focus: Success
Caution: Failure to value both results and relationships will undermine long-term performance
- What happens if I overvalue results? What happens if I overvalue relationships?
- Which is my personal bias as a leader - results or relationships?
- How can I compensate for the area that is not my natural strength?
- How can my team help me in this area?
- What will be th e consequences if I don’t broaden my definition of success?
So, what will be success for you? How will you define it for yourself and for your team? I want to challenge you to take some time today and reflect over these questions. Maybe even reach out to someone you trust and take them out to lunch this week and discuss this topic, seek advice and ask for accountability in this area. Valuing both results and relationships is key to becoming an effective leader.
Here’s what I did at the restaurant. I realized that I had overvalued results and that my team was suffering because of it. Some were leaving for other jobs. Some were just leaving. I found myself in a spot where I was short on staff. I knew I needed to focus on the relationship aspect of my leadership role.
What I did was I began to first invest in the team members I currently had. I set up a one-on-one with them (almost every one of them assumed it was disciplinary at first, which affirmed how little trust existed in my relationships with my team), and asked them to tell me about themselves. I wanted to know how they ended up working here, how long they had been there, and what their experience had been like so far. I genuinely asked them what they wanted out of life, what goals they had for their career, and what they hoped to do and become once they moved on (and for most of them) graduated high school or college.
And then I asked them, “If I were to invest in you as a person and a leader while you are on my team, what would you like to learn or improve?” I asked them to give me at least one professional goal and one personal goal, and then I committed to leveraging my resources and time to encourage, challenge and assist them in reaching those goals. Over the course of a few months, I began to see our culture change. I began to notice that attitudes towards their work, one another, and our customers changed. For the first time, I was in real-time experiencing success that valuing results and relationships could bring.
I also had to relook at my hiring philosophy. I needed people badly and had slipped into the mindset that I just needed warm bodies in here to make pizzas. That felt wrong - because it is wrong. So I took a fresh look at my interviewing process. I sat down at my desk and I wrote down what my vision was for a new team member to experience as a result of them being on my team. I realized that the majority of my applicants were high school and college students and flipping pizza dough was a long-term career, but for most it was to help them get through school. For many, it was their first job ever and they were just trying to figure out this new world or work.
As I interviewed potential team members, I often said that I realize this is not necessarily a “career move” for them and that they would one day move on to bigger and better things - and that was okay. In fact, that was my goal. I told them that as a result of them being on this team, my desire was that when that day came and it was their time to move on, that they would be a better person and leader. And so ended my struggle to find quality employees...and keep them.
What followed was the most enjoyable and successful season that our business had ever experienced. It wasn’t void of challenges and struggles, but our people knew they were valued and out of that came supreme effort and results.
I left this job after four years to join the Chaplain team at Simmons. Our opportunities here are not void of its own challenges and struggles, and yet we have that same opportunities to live out our value of Put People First in the way that we respect one another and place a high value on the lives of those that work alongside us every day. My challenge to you is to take an honest look inside, as well as around you today. How well are you balancing results and relationships? My prayer is that you experience significant growth in each of those areas as you invest your time and talents into continuing to build a great company at Simmons.