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Real Story Of The Week...

"From Cashier to V. P. Operations..."

"Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best." ~ Theodore I. Rubin

A Case Study in WOW Performance...

Marie, a 55 year old happily married woman was looking to pick up a little loose change (for a big vacation she had been planning) while her husband was wrapping up a major project that was taking up every waking moment of his life. Marie was not bored—far from it—but had 10-20 hours a week she wanted to put to better financial use. She thought that she might be able to get a nice part time job earning

$200/week for about 6 months, netting her $3-4,000 for their dream trip. Pick up a little "mad money" was her objective—not building a career.

Marie had always been interested in business. Years earlier she owned a small speciality grocery store that she parlayed into a profitable, $5 million a year retailer. After 5 years, she and her partner sold out to pursue other interests.

Marie had always loved serving people and working with the public. You might say retailing was in her DNA, so she stopped into the first big-box retailer she found and applied for whatever entry-level job they might have open. They were staffing up for the spring-summer rush, so they hired her on the spot. They were looking for about 40 people to run the cash registers, help out in seasonal departments, etc.

She was elated to find a job so quickly, especially with a company that was growing, and was willing to pay exactly what she had asked for: $10.75/hour!

Better, she was incredibly happy to work for a company that required continuous training and performance measurements! Did I further mention that Marie's top 10 personal Values are: Competition, Challenge, Winning, Curiosity, Honesty/Integrity, Adventure, Laughter, Love, Compassion and Camaraderie.

Here was a highly energetic and positive person with stunning values—but NO vision (beyond bringing home a nice paycheck) and a modest role (cashier), with a company imposed Mission: WOW Customer Service.

The Starting Point for Her Success...

It became clear to Marie shortly after she started work that the company's Mission of providing WOW Customer Service was not just a buzz word, and that many of the people she hired on with had already gotten the ax for failure to live the mission. (New Vision. WOW service as a cashier meant making sure people got quickly through the line, and that if they needed any help whatsoever, that they would find it from a happy smiling face.)

As new people were hired, she helped train them and acted as their mentor—instilling not only a good work-ethic in the young people the company hired, but teaching them the rules of success. She took advantage of every training opportunity they provided her, and passed the daily tests with flying colors. (This company believes so strongly in training their people, that every time an employee clocks in, they must take a quick 3 question customer-focus quiz before starting work!)

At the end of the season when it came time for her to leave, they made her "an offer she couldn't refuse": A New Vision. A full time position in the toughest, most "interesting" job available: Pricing Coordinator—where the Mission is to provide WOW customer service, by making sure all 41,000 different items in the store are priced correctly and every SKU had the right label—with no holes on the shelf. This job required intense team-building, time management and organizational skills. She had 8 hours to run the reports, audit the prices, change the labels, and make certain to "shoot" all the holes, so their computers could fill those empty slots.

Her job performance would be measured by her audit scores, and that if her numbers dropped below 85% on any one audit, she would be terminated.

The prior 3 Pricing Coordinators lost their jobs for failure to meet expectations. She would be given a 50 cent/hour raise. Of course, she leaped at the opportunity. She does value a CHALLENGE.

After she and her husband returned from their fabulous adventure, she dug into her new role, taking to it like a duck to water. Within the first year, her audits averaged over 97%—the best in the entire division.

During one of the frequent "reorganizations," a new store manager abruptly moved Marie to the worst department they had... a department that had been losing so much money that they had fired four managers in a row for failing to meet budget. She would become a sales associate in the electrical department working for a woman who was brought in from out of state to turn it around. She would be earning only $1/hour more, but she was excited at the challenge of turning the department into a money maker.

The mission was the same: WOW customer service—but here was another new Vision. By helping the customer buy from them, not letting them walk next door to the big Orange Box! Almost immediately, the numbers for the department started trending up, and while still not as profitable as other departments in the store, HOPE finally returned from a two year sabbatical!

In six months, the Team Lead decided to move to another location, so Marie naturally applied for the job. She got it, and learned her new mission as Team Lead was: Wow customer service—by building a strong team in that department—to out-sell and out-perform the Orange Box people. She was paid a little more per hour, but qualified for spiffs and commissions.

Three months later, the department had not only turned the corner, but was the single most profitable department in the store, having doubled its sales volume—mostly by getting people to return to her store, rather than wander down the street. Marie had almost doubled her earnings as well, and could start to see the financial benefits of connecting the dots between pay and performance.

After a year as Team Leader—and with exceptional job and leadership training— a new Vision presented itself and Marie took the test to become Department Manager, winning the job and the opportunity to WOW corporate management as well as provide WOW customer service— by building the most customer focused electrical department within the division.

Within two years, her department was not only the most profitable in the store, but within the western division as well... and third in the entire company. The honchos were so impressed with her performance, a senior VP from the corporate office stopped by to congratulate her when he was in town. As her bonus, they gave her the Plumbing Department to manage along with the Electrical Department. All challenge—no increase in pay.

As the store grew to a $50 million business unit, Marie remained focused on the clear Mission: WOW the customer... and was elevated to various Zone Management and Administrative Leadership roles.

Throughout all the long hours, ridiculous schedules, ups and downs, hard work and challenges, she had managed to turn a part time job into a real money-making opportunity—a career that was both emotionally and financially rewarding.

Out of 600,000 employees, there are only 4 women at her level. She is happy, satisfied with her life, and knows that she has made a tremendous contribution to everyone around her. She knows her life matters.

While dog-tired each day, she is truly content!

One Mission—Many Roles...

If you were to now ask Marie what her personal mission is, it would be simply this: "Provide WOW Service to my family, my company and my community." How did a 55 year old woman go from $10 bucks an hour, 10 years ago, to an executive with stock options, a six figure paycheck and the respect of thousands of people... without a degree from Harvard or Yale?

She lived her Mission. She performed on purpose in every Role she took on. She out-worked, out-hustled and out-produced the competition and made certain that everyone around her performed up to their full potential.

She prepared herself for ever-present opportunities. She lived her most important VALUES by creating VISIONS of success for every challenge she took on. She then fully powered up each ROLE to achieve results well beyond what anybody expected of her.

She always EXPECTED more of herself—and EXECUTED well beyond expectations. This is how ordinary people produce

EXTRA-ORDINARY results over time: High TQ Performance—High Expectations—Brilliant Execution.

Discussion Group Questions...

How strongly do you relate to Marie's case study? Have you, through the power of Expectation, taken on a menial role or task and risen well above it—by remaining positive and focused on the Mission?

Again, give some thought to the broad issues we raised and take a moment to journal your thoughts here, or online at the link below.

Please Post Your Thoughts and Observations...

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Member Comments...

I see how I allowed my career to go awry by failing to match what I was doing to my values. Instead of leaving, I suffered through my job (and life) and made the company and clients suffer as well. I see how I need to clearly know what my values are, imagineer my vision to live my values, and expand or create my to make my mission come alive in achieving my goals.

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