Lifetime Learning

“If skills could be acquired just by watching, every dog would be a butcher.”

– Turkish proverb

Here is another “take-away” from the professional association conference that I attended last week in Tucson, AZ. Several of the sessions were devoted to establishing and maintaining your “Corporate Culture.” In the world of music products retailing, no one does this better than George Hines, the President of George’s Music – an eleven-store chain with locations in both Pennsylvania and Florida. George presented a session titled, “Company Culture & Success in an Ever-Changing Industry.”

George and his managers put an extraordinary amount of effort into the process of hiring each employee. The end-results are that George’s Music has probably the lowest staff-turnover ration in the industry and each of their customers receives exceptional fine service. George is constantly training, monitoring and coaching his staff to achieve the highest levels of sales and service possible.

One of my “take-aways” from this session was the way George’s Music celebrates their newest associates:

1) Two weeks before their first day of work, George Hines personally writes and addresses a “Welcome to George’s Music” greeting card. It is send to the new associates home address – before they even start working at George’s!

2) On their first day at work, each new associate is give a cake and a welcoming lunch – complete with introductions. George, humorously said, “Why wait until their last day working for me to give them a cake? By then, it is too late for both the employer and the employee!”

3) Similar to the “Welcome to George’s Music” card, each associate receives a hand-written card – at their home – on each anniversary date of their employment.

There are many other systems and processes that George’s staff employ to ensure a strong “corporate culture.” There is no question that paying careful attention to the care and development of each associate means that each customer who visits George’s stores or website feels special – and they are more likely to become lifetime customers and an excellent source of referrals.

Investing time and energy in the “recruitment and retention” of your employees pays a huge long-term benefit to any company – of any size. Let’s reflect on George’s comment that waiting to give a celebration cake on an employees’ last day at work is “wrong-term” thinking! The same is true of the “employee exit interview.” Shouldn’t you take the time to find out what is going on with your associates while they are working for you? Yes, you can pick up valuable information from a candid employee’s “exit interview.” But … by then it is too late – it is reactive. Perhaps you wanted to retain them, and now they are going to work for your competitor!

So… why not start to hold “retention interviews” with your staff. No, not those dreaded annual staff review meetings – they are far too stressful. Try this instead:

1) At three-year or five-year anniversary dates, ask your associates what rewards and benefits have inspired them to remain working for you. Conversely, you might ask them about anything that might have tempted them to quit or look for other employment.

2) You will notice that the longer each associate remains with your firm, their needs and wants – their “motivators’ will change – actually they will evolve. Make sure that you also evolve. This may be the time to move this associate to a more rewarding position in your company – perhaps they can become a mentor to other associates. This is a great way to grow your “corporate culture!”

Several time during the conference, presenters mentioned Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines. Here are Herb’s “colorful” comments on Company Culture:


Herb and George are both correct: Your competitors can never copy your company culture. That is your key to achieving a competitive edge. Start establishing yours today. Continue to invest in your associates. Teach them, grow them and empower them. You will receive many long-term returns on your investment.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Add to favorites
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Technorati
  • Print
  • email
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Orkut
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn

Speak Your Mind