Author Archive for: ‘Leslie Phillips, President & COO’

Yoda, Ron Merricks, and other teachers

For almost 24 years, MG has served Chatham Hall and for our entire tenure, we have reported to Ron Merricks…until today. Today, along with many others, we celebrated his last day at Chatham Hall and the start of his retirement. Ron, like Yoda and other philosopher-teachers, is known for his “isms” — incredible wisdom contained in compact sentences. A couple favorites from Ron:

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” (Ron said this a number of times over the years and always as he was explaining why he still chose to do business with MG.)

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

And from Yoda:

“Try not. Do, or do not — there is no ‘try.'” Yoda also said, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” In other words, be willing to make mistakes, always learn from the past, let go of old traditions or methods that keep you from growing or seizing new opportunities.

*Picture from Ron Merrick’s retirement party

It’s not all good all the time

Who doesn’t love the good times? Those special events that go so well. That account makeover that has long-time partners all a twitter. That simple, wowsy addition to a regular lunch meal that has the kids going crazy.

But, it doesn’t – always – go that way, does it?

Continuing on our road to Resilience, next time your team has a disappointment, practice these messages from “Feel Your Disappointment, Then Move Forward”:

We’re told not to be emotionally attached to the outcome. I couldn’t disagree more.
I want you and your team to care about results. The easy emotion is feeling the rush of excitement when your team nails it. It’s the uncomfortable feelings we try to avoid: disappointment, regret, and frustration. I used to dismiss uncomfortable emotions. I’d rally the troops with “it’s all good” and look for the “silver lining” and the “lessons learned.” While there’s still value in seeing the bright side, it wasn’t until I finally let the disappointment hit our shared ego and pride that powerful progress was made.

Speak calmly and plainly. Talk about failed promises to the customer. Talk about commitments to excellence. Ask who is willing to be the best. And when folks say “me” – ask everyone (yourself included) to share what they will do, specifically and concretely, to step up. And, boom. If you do this, you will make the most of whatever went wrong, and your team will ignite a greater feeling of pride and shared responsibility.

Resolve to Be Resilient

The love of your life has died suddenly. Can you imagine feeling joy ever again?
Sheryl Sandberg went through this experience. She’s written a book about it, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resistance and Finding Joy. She believes resilience is like a muscle and can be built up, that life is never perfect, and doesn’t always go according to plan. “We all live some form of Option B.”

An FBI Agent (and former “fancy department store buyer”), shares her thoughts on resilience – discovered from her earliest experiences at the FBI Academy:

  • Accept that it’s not all about you. “You don’t need more mantras or affirmations; you need a better way to look at your world.”
  • Refuse to play the blame game. “Life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
  • Bring it on. Getting knocked down is part of life…getting back up is, too.
  • Stop trying to be happy. Happiness is an emotion that draws its power from others. Joy is an attitude that depends only on you.

The gym is crowded in January. This muscle can be exercised anywhere.

Ask Yourself

The busyness of the fall is swiftly followed by the buzz of the holidays.
But take a moment to reflect on how you and your team are functioning.
Is your team running on all cylinders? Are you operating with minimal chaos (and drama)? How is everyone’s attitude? How is yours?

Deeply important to MG is the value that we are kind, positive and gracious…and that we show up every day ready to love food, people and serving others. Even when we are crazy busy!
If you have someone whose work is not up to snuff, ask yourself: are they not right for the position or not ready? There is a difference. And if they are not ready – you MUST ask yourself: do I have the time and resources to develop them?
If you have someone who is regressing, ask yourself: do they know what I expect of them? Or, have they lost interest because they’re under challenged?
If you have someone whose work is great, but they resist feedback or have a crusty attitude, ask yourself: do I have the courage to talk with them about their attitude?

Presence & Presents

Both are gifts you can get and give; but our presence is available at no charge to us and at great benefit to those around us.

Human beings cannot multitask. What we are capable of is handling a number of serial tasks in rapid succession, or mixing automatic tasks with those that are not so automatic. That’s one of the reasons the NTSB reports that texting while driving is the functional equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. You just can’t effectively attend to two things at once – even the superficially automatic ones.

So, how do we stay present? The first thing to recognize is that, try as we might, we really can only do one thing at a time, so we ought to do that thing wholeheartedly.

Ways to foster our own “presence” include focusing on our breathing (and taking a deep breath); stepping back and observing ourselves; letting go of things that are not actually happening in the moment (meaning, the past and the future).

A busy food service operation is a great place to practice being present. Let the giving begin!

Going up?

We recently heard Simon Sinek’s messages about empathy. He suggests that to practice empathy in the workplace we must — daily — make the well-being of others (our teammates, our customers, our health inspector, etc.) a conscious, visible, intentional priority.

This theme also connects with this article about the mood elevator.
The Mood Elevator is an awareness tool…used to describe our moment-to-moment experience of life. It encompasses a wide range of feelings and together, these emotions play a major role in defining the quality of our lives as well as our effectiveness.

Behaviors found on the “higher” (positive) floors of the mood elevator include:
 

1. Positive spirit/vitality. Creating an environment where there is teamwork, mutual support (AND EMPATHY), and cooperation…where people are fun to be around, proud of what they do, and willing to put in the effort that is beyond normal expectations.

2. Collaboration/trust. Creating frequent and open two-way communication… maintaining openness and trust…with high levels of (EMPATHY) feedback and coaching.

3. Appreciation/recognition. And rewarding performance.

4. Agility/innovation/growth. Encouraging people to innovate, create, and be open to change. Empowering people, and having a bias for action and an urgency to move forward.

5. Customer/quality focus. Having a high focus on, and awareness of, quality and customer service.

6. Ethics/integrity. Acting with honesty…Core Values and ethics are very important and decisions are made for the greater good of the organization. Seeing healthy differences and diversity as strengths.

7. Performance orientation. Having high expectations for performance and accountability for actions and results. Being a self-starter.

8. Direction/purpose. Providing a sense of direction and purpose…with clear alignment and connection with the organization’s strategic goals.

 
Live the above and you’ll be more creative, joyful and productive. Promise.

Like Fred & Ginger

When we see or experience two people or two concepts that are silky smooth, fine tuned, natural, beautiful….we may say (or hear), “you know…they’re like Fred and Ginger.” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers knew how to dance.

In Culture isn’t enough, the Fred and Ginger are Culture AND Brand.
Timely, especially as we work on our company meeting agenda where the word “brand” is spotlighted.

On the topic of Culture, it’s true, “happy, engaged employees do indeed produce better results.” Employees get and stay engaged for a variety of reasons. Having the chance to do what you do best every day, hearing appreciation, getting coaching and honest feedback so you can grow and be successful…the things that turn you on, turn on your team, too.

“But if you want to do more than survive — if you want to increase your competitiveness, to create real value for your customers and employees, to future-proof your business — having a good, generic culture isn’t enough. You should cultivate a culture that is aligned and integrated with your brand.”

How to do this:

1. Adopt a single brand purpose to inspire, focus, and guide everything your organization does. Start with why your organization exists (not what you do or how you do it). And why is NEVER “to make money.” Customers do not seek us out because we do something to make money. MG’s why? Articulated by many in many different ways — but all seem to center around wanting to make lives better (our customers, our employees, our growers, and on and on).

2. Articulate one set of core values and use them to shape what you do inside your organization and out.

3. Check in on how you are doing. Are you performing well in both areas? Are employees engaged and feeling good about their work; and are you making lives better every day?

Can you hear the music and see the silhouettes gliding across the dance floor?

Start Small & Repeat

I love our mantra, Make a Difference Every Day. I love wearing my MG tee shirt that reminds me to set this daily intention and helps me share the message with everyone around me. And yet, sometimes, I fall into the trap of measuring the difference on the wrong scale. While some days it’s huge — something you plan for, commit to, and do (like organizing a full day of service in your community; helping build a Habitat house, etc.); the rest of the days, it’s not.
 
“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily difference we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
— Marion Wright Edelman
 
And that’s what makes this mindset…and our actions that support it, every day…so magical.

Making the Most of a Bad Situation

Life will always have contrast to it. Day, night. Joy, grief. Beginner, expert. Hot, cold.
Some days we feel like we’re “in the groove” – everything is falling into place and going well. And some days — well — just the opposite.
 
When someone comes to you and says, “this isn’t working, things are bad,” what do you do?
 
From Don’t say ‘it’s not that bad’ to someone who thinks it’s bad:
Say, “you know, you’re right.” And then ask,

  • What’s bad about it? Or, what makes you say that?
  • What decisions/behaviors are making it bad?
  • If it was good, what would it look like?
  •  
    Treat people who think things are bad like intelligent competent team members (because hopefully they are!)

  • Don’t contradict their assessments.
  • Ask for suggestions.
  • Expect them to make things better (share responsibility if it’s warranted).
  • Use “you” and “we” in the steps forward.
  • The Platinum Rule

    “Treat others as you would have them treat you.” That’s a modern adaptation of the Golden Rule and one that we’ve probably heard a number of times throughout our life. It’s an ok model. Certainly better than treating others worse than you would have them treat you. But, this article suggests the Golden Rule doesn’t work as well as we may think.
     
    Why is that ineffective? Because it’s based on just this teeny, tiny assumption that the whole universe wants to be treated the way I want to be treated. That’s not the case. We’ve got to learn how to treat others as they want to be treated, which is the Platinum Rule.
    We all see the world through our own filters. These filters are unique to us and while we know they must exist, most of us are unaware of them as we move through our day to day interactions.
     
    “Filter – shift” is a concept where we learn to recognize our individual filters and shift our behaviors or responses to them (in other words, our bias) so we can be more effective and have better relationships with one another.

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