When my partner, Peter, and I engaged Fran Kennedy in 2011 our operations included four stores in the Sarnia market and a crew of 300-plus employees of largely students, young adults and retirees. Our management are longtime career employees and we were proud of their achievements. When we received the National Energizing Crew and Manager Award the previous year we were thrilled for our team! By Q3 2011 we had completed extensive renovations to three stores, renovated and relocated a Walmart facility all in four years. Our metrics indicated our current state of operations was good to go on all counts.
What prompted the need for change? When McCafe was re-launched at one of our locations we recognized the changes to operations represented another opportunity for growth. We believe when you grow your people you grow your business. Fran’s belief that change represents a crisis of opportunities and our ideas about employee engagement were aligned. The challenge: How to engage individual managers and team leaders to “think like an owner”?
We explored ways to build on the culture of a core of valued employees and Fran’s facilitated off-site day for leaders proved engaging and even fun. But aligning personal goals with the vision and mission of our enterprise was challenging and even uncomfortable for some. Over time the idea took hold and the following year each store rolled out strategic plans that were developed and monitored by self-directed teams. We went a long way in optimizing the opportunity to leverage a change initiative that required “employee engagement” to succeed.
Lessons learned: People transition through change at different speeds; resistance is common so communicate consistently, often, and in as many ways as possible.
Fran’s mantra that “people support that which they help to create” proved to be true over and over again.
Providing team leaders with an understanding of the impact of change fostered ownership for team performance, a culture of pride in their workplace and a job well done. It also strengthened their identity as a high performance team.
I would not hesitate to recommend Fran Kennedy when you are ready to move to the next level. It’s not easy work, but you, and your organization will be better for it.