Thursday, August 13, 2009

Commitment vs. compliance - the Difference Between Bacon and Eggs.

Gaining Commitment In the Workplace - The Difference Between Bacon and Eggs, by Gary Lea

Recently I was asked to speak on this particular subject. What is it that makes getting people to commit to a cause or organization rather than simply be in compliance with what they are asked to do? To help decipher that question and look at what really makes the difference I spent a great deal of time going back through my own experiences as an employer and an employee and the following blog was the result. this is also the basis of my discussion on the subject. I hope it provides some value to those who read it.

Commitment versus Compliance

In the world of multi-unit operations I am often asked what really constitutes commitment and why is it preferred over compliance. On the surface it seems so easy to answer both but the truth is not so simple. Explanation is one thing, putting it all into practice is a whole different thing.Let me start with a little anecdote from my grandfather. He once told me the difference between commitment and contribution, compliance or anything else of that ilk is the difference between bacon and eggs. He explained it like this. “When a Hen sits in the roost and plops out eggs day after day she really contributes something special to your breakfast. She is compliant and forces those eggs out one after another. The Pig on the other hand, who became the bacon, well now he is totally committed to your breakfast isn't he!"I use to use this philosophy with my managers when I was in the restaurant business and running upwards of 50 units. You need compliance in those situations and I would never argue the value but I always prefer that people get committed to what they are doing.

Compliance falls right in as a matter of course with commitment and it is a lot less strenuous on everyone if the performance comes because people are committed to your vision and mission. So I created a character named, appropriately enough, T.C. Pig as our group’s mascot. He was a pig in a suit carrying a brief case and the T.C. stood for Total Commitment. I gave out golden pig awards for exceptional performance; we had a monthly publication called the Pig Gazette that we used as an informational vehicle and as a way to highlight top performers of that month. It went over like gangbusters and people would covet those little gold pigs. We had a very high degree of commitment and that group of restaurants over a two year period rose from being at the bottom of the company in almost every measured metric to being the number one group in the company nationwide. A lot of people started to ask how they could get in on the Hog Bandwagon!

Of course a fancy mascot and some awards will not buy you commitment. What does get you commitment from your people comes from a few sources and not just one thing. Over the years I have tried to distill it all down into a key area of focus when you are trying to get that commitment from your team. I believe that the single most important key to gaining commitment from people is TRUST. When people trust you they are more likely to get behind initiatives you give them. How do you gain their trust? Here is what I have learned so far:

1. Honesty – This is probably the most important step you can make with your team in gaining their commitment to anything. If people cannot believe you because you have displayed dishonesty they will never trust you. Always be honest with your team. I do not mean Brutal Honesty but rather good sense honesty. Let me demonstrate the difference. Again I can thank my grandfather (you will be hearing from him now and again I can guarantee you). He told me that the difference between being honest in a tactful way and being brutally honest is this. Imagine an elderly couple sitting having coffee at the kitchen table. The wife looks at her husband of 60 years and says “Honey, when I look at you time stands still!” What she was thinking was “your face could stop a clock”! Yes an extreme exaggeration but I can state with certainty that the first statement probably got her a lot further along than the second. It is learning to give people honest information and to deliver it tactfully. America was fascinated with Donald Trump in his TV series, The Apprentice and seemed to love it when he said “You’re fired!” They probably would not have found it quite so entertaining if it was projected directly at them. We all prefer a little more tact when delivering information, especially if it is not good or positive. How many times have you had to ask your staff to get behind something that may not be particularly fun or positive but was necessary? Giving them the honest truth puts them more in control of what they do in response. Giving it to them in a tactful way reduces defensiveness. This allows for the team member to make some choices about that particular situation with a more logical and thoughtful approach.

2. Consistency is another key. You cannot be all over the place with various members of your team. Telling one person things are this way and then another person something totally different. You cannot have separate rules for the individuals on a team. You have to level the playing field give each member of your team a consistent example to gain any hope of driving commitment. They must be fairly certain that the way you treat them is the same way you treat others and that you are fair and equitable with the entire team. They also must see that you walk the talk! You cannot display double standards. Today’s employees are pretty doggone smart and are very connected. If you tell one of them you cannot come to aid them with a project because you are helping so and so over at another location, you better be telling the truth because if you are out on the golf course or at the mall having your nails done they will know it. If you expect them to put in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay you better consistently model that behavior. My greatest frustrations and the times when I had the most difficulty working for someone was when they behaved in a fashion that was untruthful and inconsistent. I would expect no less from my own team under those circumstances.

3. Knowledge is the third factor that I feel drives commitment. When your people have a full understanding of why changes are important and how they benefit them they are more likely to get on board. By giving them full knowledge of the circumstances they feel much better about doing something. Even if the change is needed but not necessarily positive the more they know of what went in to the decision and why it is needed the more likely they are to be committed to it. Yes it takes a bit more time to do this but by investing that extra time to fully explain the need, the benefits and tying it all back to them and what they want and need facilitates trust, understanding, desire and team work which all create a culture of commitment. I think that the days of treating our employees and coworkers like mushrooms should be decades behind us but in reality I find all too often that it is, sadly, not! Every generation becomes more savvy, more street smart and more intelligent than the last. They know when you are keeping them in the dark and they usually see it as an insult. Do we need to provide them with every minute detail of the company business? Of course not and most people do not expect to know all that and many would not want to know it if you offered to tell them. What they do want to know is why things are being done the way they are and how this will affect them, good, bad or indifferent.

4. Treat people with dignity and respect. Correct in private, praise in public. A company I worked for in my past life made and absolute art of dressing people down in front of their peers, subordinates and anyone else in range of human hearing and called it “Feedback”! Here is a definition of feedback from our dictionary – “The return of a portion of the output of a process or system to the input, especially when used to maintain performance or to control a system or process.” Now here is a definition of Scolding – “A harsh or sharp reprimand”. Now let me ask you this question. If a group of high ranking corporate people including peers of yours and peers of your subordinates walked through your operating unit, then gathered you together with your subordinates and told you what they found that was wrong and needed to be fixed would you consider that harsh? If they told you that they were extremely disappointed in the condition of your unit at that moment in time and questioned your leadership and did it within easy earshot of everyone and their mother would you be wide open to the “feedback”? Most likely, not so much. Most people would not and it does not matter if you deliver the message with a calm tone and a smile on your face the intention is not lost because of a flowery delivery. Treating people with dignity is treating them the way we all would like to be treated. Yes often one finds themselves in the unpleasant situation of performance or behavioral correction but that should always be done in private.

Be cordial with your people. Acknowledge them especially when they are doing a good job. Be real and people will respond to you in a positive way.These four things in and of themselves will never guarantee that you gain commitment rather than compliance from your team but I dare you to try and get it without one of those being in place. You will not get much of anything resembling commitment. If on the other hand you make these principles sacred in your organization you will find yourself with a team far more likely to be committed to you and your vision than not.

Compliance is not something that people do but rather something they are and you cannot will it, demand it, threaten it or lie it into the fabric of what a person is. I have found that getting commitment from your team is a matter of consistent, honest, fair, and respectful behavior. Modeling that kind of behavior as leaders is what creates the culture of commitment within any endeavor and so often the failure to adhere to one of those principles, or a combination of them, is the greatest obstacle to gaining commitment any organization can create. It starts with a look in the mirror and the accountability to understand that if the team is not committed then perhaps I, as the leader, have failed to create the proper culture by following these four principals.

I guess in the end I have just become a pig for what I believe in and that makes all the difference :-)!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Job Searaching Out of the Box, by Gary Lea

"Job Searching Out of the Box" , by Gary Lea

What does it take to find the right job in this economy? Well the answer is certainly not one dimensional nor is it easy. The good news is that there a lot of great techniques to use if you know where to look. If you are reading this, well that is a great start. So what is the first step in adjusting to the new job market? Put succinctly it is approaching the job search effort with an “Out of the Box” mindset.
What exactly is “Out of the Box”? If you are like me you often wonder who coins these interesting phrases. In thinking about this article I began to wonder what the exact definition was and how it might apply to the job searcher. This is what I found.
1. Out-of-the-box thinking - thinking that moves away in diverging directions so as to involve a variety of aspects and which sometimes lead to novel ideas and solutions; associated with creativity
Oddly enough that happens to be the same definition for Divergent Thinking
1. Divergent thinking - thinking that moves away in diverging directions so as to involve a variety of aspects and which sometimes lead to novel ideas and solutions; associated with creativity

Any way you slice it, it simply means abandoning comfortable and familiar ways of thinking through solutions to problems. So in this economy of 2009 when so many are losing their jobs and many find themselves on the job search how does this particular phrase find importance with us that are hunting. There are a few ways that I believe this can truly help our mindset in the job search efforts. It’s time to begin moving in diverging directions leading to novel ideas!
First of all job hunting can be a dreaded activity if you let it be. The reasons are pretty simple and varied. As just one example, financial uncertainty is chief among them. Many are faced with dwindling retirement funds if they were lucky enough to have them in the first place to lean on. Many face losing homes as a very real and tangible prospect in a job market like we have today. But I feel that the biggest obstacle that we face is being mired in the old ways of doing things. This is a very real threat to the job seeker who finds they are applying for jobs through the old methods and getting absolutely zero results. This ultimately leads to depression and further being mired in the same old way of doing things and the cycle goes on.
In this day and age the secrets to successful job hunting lie in being much more proactive and mounting a personal branding campaign. What does that really mean? Well it means that the days of the standard old resume’ and blasé cover letter will get you nowhere in a very quick fashion. There are just too many people vying for jobs and if what you are doing does not stand out as unique and different in the crowd you will find yourself in a very dire situation. How do I accomplish this Gary? Unfortunately that is not something that can be answered in a simple blog. The great things I can offer though are some resources and ideas to get you started on the right track to shaking off the old ways of job hunting. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant paradigm shifts and how you can utilize them. Let me make a disclaimer of sorts before I go any further. For most people reading this blog I would like to suggest that you will probably do better in your search if you invest in a company who specializes in helping the job seeker mount a job marketing campaign. There are many services out there but they are not all created equal.
1. Resumes’. Resumes’ are still viable if they are done correctly. The problem with most of them is that they are poorly done. As an Executive who has had to look through thousands of resume’s in my life I find that most are too long, focus on the wrong things and ultimately bore the reader into setting your resume’ in the pile of rejects. Today’s resume should not focus on the old bullet point format of this is what I did when and for how long. The better approach is to highlight the skills that you can provide at the very beginning of the resume’ and then get to the job history. By placing what you can do for a company at the very beginning you will have a far better chance of grabbing the attention of the reader. Don’t be shy about seeking professional help with your resume’. There are plenty of sources available to get the proper help.

2. Cover letters. Again boring cover letters that basically tell the reader about your past and how much you want to work for their company will get lost in the masses of other less than eye catching cover letters. The better approach is to tailor the letter to the company by matching what the company stands for, their mission and their expectations of a particular set of job requirements to the your cover letter matching point by point the company needs with how you can satisfy them.

3. Internet resources. Let’s face it this is the age of the internet and it is just as important of a resource if not more so to the job seeker as it is to anyone. Hey you are reading this aren’t you? There are a number of resources out there for the job seeker that cost little or nothing to use. One of the most powerful of these tools is the Video Introduction. This is a brief 2-3 minute video explaining your qualifications and what you do best. While this can be one of the most powerful and positive tools you can use it can also be the most damaging if it is done poorly. There are many examples floating around YOUTUBE of poorly done videos. Again it is best to seek support from a professional outfit that can provide you with the proper and professional video. There are a number of other venues to utilize most notably LinkedIn. If you have not created an account do so immediately. You might be surprised how many of your friends are already on it and using it to make contact with people in various industries and networking for the purpose of job searching.

4. Read. Yes read. Any good career coach will tell you to read the latest books on successful job hunting. At the top of my list is “Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters” by Levinson and Perry. This is probably the most useful book out there for helping to create paradigm shift in your thinking about job searching.

5. Attitude. Maybe the most important part of the job search. There is a saying that the level of your altitude is determined by the level of your attitude. Don’t confuse that with the line “Changes in attitudes and changes in latitudes “from Jimmy Buffet. That has more to do with drinking tequila in the Florida Keys. Your attitude determines your altitude. Nothing could be more correct. If your attitude is poor you will not fly very far or very high. Maintaining a positive mental attitude is perhaps one the most important job search tools you can possess. Sometimes that seems impossible but in the face of a lot of rejection, and there will be a lot of rejection you can take some solace in the words of my old Pastor “Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it.” Truer words were never spoken. Keep the faith and dig in. Realize that it is a game of numbers. Some experts say that for every 40 contacts you make you will probably only get one to two responses. Keep that in mind. Stay true to the job at hand and keep a positive attitude. Remember to attack your job search like any "job". It is a full time job and deserves your full effort and a great attitude. No one wants to consider an applicant with a low energy level, poor attitude or a disinterested and detached presentation.

Those are the tidbits of wisdom that can get you moving in the right direction if you find yourself struggling to find a new employment opportunity. I have stated numerous times to seek professional assistance if you can. If you find yourself in Las Vegas and in need of a good career coaching firm there is only one that I feel really does the job right and they have been at the leading edge of job searching techniques and that is Harrington and Reed. Just make sure that your career coach provides the level of service that Harrington and Reed do. CEO Chris Jenkins is a regular columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper and is featured every Sunday. If you can get a hold of a copy of the Sunday RJ do so and get some great free tips from Chris. Visit their website and use it as a benchmark when searching for a career coach in other areas of the country.
Look for more on this subject coming your way.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

10013 Madison Walk Ave., NV 89149
Cell: 702-513-8501 / Home: 702-396-6022

Seasoned Operations Executive

Senior Level Executive with over 20 years of broad operational multi unit management. Proven track record of generating multimillion-dollar revenue/profit gains utilizing diverse workforces across multiple industries.

Budget Planning and Financial Management
Developed Annual Budget and Business Plan for $1billion company. Managed large division with and operating budget in excess of $50million. Improved operating margins for the territory despite general decline in local economies. Met and exceeded all cost control goals and highly successful at developing and implementing cost control processes.

Operations and Project Management
Successfully identified sites and the building of large scale operational units. Consistently exceeded opening attendance and revenue figures while implementing cost control processes. Partnered with compliance agency and developed strong collaborative relationships to insure timely opening with full support of agencies. Successful in developing and implementing Best Practices throughout the organization.

Leadership Development
Identified and developed over 53 individuals who were able to move up two positions within the organization. Developed two training/development programs for entry level managers that were implanted system wide in over 120 locations. Consistently developed strong, motivated and cohesive teams by promoting company vision and mission statements. Utilized a hands on leader approach and focused on removing obstacles, providing clear directions and goals and provided the tools that employees need effectively operate at a high level of effectiveness. Promoted laser focus on customer service by developing and implementing the G.U.E.S.T. service program with high quality results.

Professional Experience
TARGET CORPORATION, Las Vegas, NV 2006 – Present
Big Box Discount Retailer
District Manager Trainee

Currently working through a 24 month, in store training program, designed to ready non-traditional retail candidates for the challenges of running a multiple unit territory. Each area generates between $200 Million and $300 Million in yearly revenues and employing over 2000 individuals in various areas of expertise. Took over a troubled, medium volume operation that had been running below company standards consistently for over five years.

* Improved Payroll cost by 17% over previous year
* Improved Controllable Profit by 12.8% over previous year despite sales being down 7.3%
* Improved overall operating metrics score by 10% over previous year taking store to Green status (exceeds expectations) for first time in over 5 years

THE PURSIANO LAW GROUP, Las Vegas, NV – San Diego, CA – Phoenix, AZ 2005 - 2006
Law Firm specializing in Construction Defect law and litigation. The firm has offices in Nevada, California and Arizona

Brought in to assist in the operations of the firm, improve marketing and to help launch a new legal document delivery service. Became field liaison for 87 clients in Pahrump and took care of oversight for all destructive testing.
* Successfully started a sister L.L.C. that specializes in legal document delivery
* Was instrumental in securing and maintaining clients in a thriving Construction Defect firm bringing in over 20 new clients to the firm
* Became field liaison for 87 clients in Pahrump, NV and took care of oversight for all destructive testing

PLATFORM LEARNING, Las Vegas, NV 2004 – 2005
Startup supplemental educational services provider, providing tutoring services to under resourced students in urban settings through the No Child Left Behind Act.

Vice President of Western Operations
* Developed a team of professional educators and business professionals to secure contracts for the provision of services in over 30 public school districts within Northern and Southern California
* Successfully negotiated major contracts with School Districts for provision of service under the NCLB
* Secured a $500K contract that produced double the targeted operating margin
* Implemented a sales strategy to market services to school districts and end users
* Created a marketing strategy to maximize exposure and effectiveness
* Exceeded revenue and profit targets by 9.6%

Private education provider with over 180 private preschool through grade 8 schools generating $190M per year in revenue

Managed the largest division, over 80 units, within the organization and controlled all five company concepts, including troubled Charter School and Special Needs divisions.

* Improved operating margins for the territory by 27% in the face of an 11% decline in revenue in the first 18 months.
* Retrained and refocused modeled behavior that improved the quality of personnel. Established performance expectations and monitored progress through established metrics.
* Completed turnaround of three troubled markets and two troubled concepts through training and establishing and implementing systems, financial controls and the development of improved retention strategies.
* Received honors from CEO for Best Performing Division.

Managed a group of schools spanning two states providing high quality education in a private setting for an elite clientele. Directed a team of 14 educational professionals and handled all HR matters. Developed and implemented Personnel Development and Succession Planning Strategy. Direct all marketing efforts.
* Improved operating margins over 700% on a revenue growth of 17% exceeding the typical 9% expected in the school district
* Improved enrollment and subsequent profitability of private school from an extremely low enrollment
* of 29 students to an overflowing capacity of 170 students over an 18 month period of time.
* Focused attention on under performing schools
* Established policies and procedures for financial controls and providing marketing programs to capture enrollees
* Redistributed and expanded classroom utilization to allow for enrollment expansion. This contributed to a 60% increase in enrollment in one school alone
* Replaced ineffective personnel and stream lined operations at a charter school district operating on a $4M annual deficit, breaking even within 2 years

B.C.E. WEST, INC., D.B.A. BOSTON MARKET, Las Vegas, NV and Denver, CO 1997 – 2000
A large chain of restaurants specializing in home cooked meal replacements

* Operated a chain of restaurants in Nevada and New Mexico offering high quality meals in a fast food delivery system. Directed a team of 3 district managers, 30 GM’s, and 4 managing partners.
* Moved territory from 106th (out of 106) to 2nd in franchise of over 100 units and 5th in the overall chain.
* Earned Top Operating Profit and Top QSC honors in company after only 16 months in the position

The world’s largest professional childcare provider, operating over 1400 childcare centers nationwide

Managed one of the largest divisions within the organization and controlled 150 units over eleven states. Provided leadership to a group comprised of eleven district managers, one training manager, two HR specialists and a support staff of five. Identified and developed seven new district managers and two region managers for the organization.
* Successfully constructed and opened eleven new facilities in the division over a three year period
* Exceeded goals for continuous revenue and operating profit growth year after year
* Always met and exceeded company $2M annual fund raising goals for MDA partnership. Ranked as the top producing region for five years running

Ensured schools follow state guidelines. Provided effective marketing to drive enrollment. Established financial controls to meet profitability goals. Maintained proper personnel levels and reduced turnover.
* Consistently exceeded all objectives set by Chief Operating Officer
* Served as field liaison on technology team in the development of software and hardware program packages
* Brought seven out of seven underperforming, schools up to operating standards within 9 months
* Assigned an additional district of eleven schools, to be supervised concurrently, due to turn around expertise demonstrated in original district
* Ultimately given supervisory responsibility for a district of fifteen schools again achieving strong revenue and profitability turnarounds as in the previous two districts


Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, MO – Bachelor of Science Business
Concord School of Law, Los Angeles, CA

Professional Associations
Nevada Trial Lawyers Assoc.
Completed numerous courses and training sessions on Finance, Leadership, Human Resources, Diversity Training, Compliance and Project Management
Certificate – Executive Leadership, American Management Association, San Francisco, CA