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About six weeks ago we hosted an Employer of Choice Decision Accelerator to find out what our employees think we can do better in regard to pay, benefits, learning, and culture. We were in the middle of the first session, when my phone vibrated with a text message. It said, “Call me! I got it”. The message was from my son Patrick.
I stepped outside the Veterans Hall into the sunshine and heard the news that he had just been offered and accepted a job at the Arizona Republic, the 9th largest newspaper in the United States. It is his first job out of college and he calls it his dream job. I chatted with him for a few minutes, gave him a virtual high five, and when I re-entered the auditorium, felt a flood of emotions. Relief that he got a job in this economy. Joy that he was so happy, and pride, that all his hard work had paid off. Then as the auditorium hummed with all the activity at the white boards, it hit me. Our employees want what Patrick was lucky enough to find.
Pat has worked for this newspaper a couple of summers as an intern and has gotten to know his manager pretty well. Why? Because this guy cares about him. I mean really shows an interest in his well-being. He encourages Patrick to learn from the other experienced photographers. He periodically does a portfolio review to discuss how he can improve. When the week is over, this manager takes all the interns, who are in their 20s, out for some social time to get to know them. When Patrick arrived there in June he received an exuberant welcome from his manager Mike, who shook his hand and with a big smile said, “So you came back! Boy do we have some work for you to do!”
I was curious to see how this place could be so inspiring to Patrick, so I decided to Google their mission statement. In large blue colored font the first three words tell it all. To enrich lives, it begins . And then four powerful C-words are included: connect, communities, catalyst and conversations. Now I had the picture of why Patrick was displaying the same signs you notice in love struck teenagers: passion, loyalty, commitment, and immense consumption of cell phone minutes. He wants to be one of them. He wants to enrich other people’s lives.
Mission Statement of Arizona Republic/Gannet Media: To enrich livesby informing and inspiring consumers, by providing the ease and accessibility to connect them with their communities of interest, and by being a catalyst for the conversations that are making a difference every day."
When Mike gave Patrick his offer letter, the pay was pretty much what all interns make, which is not huge, but you would think that Pat had just landed a hedge fund job on Wall Street. He’s made some mistakes in his first days, but his manager is pretty cool about it. From what I can tell Mike doesn’t punish him or make him feel foolish or treat him badly. He lets him learn from the mistakes and I’m betting Pat won’t repeat them. He’ll make new mistakes and if Mike is true to form, he’ll help Pat learn from these too. What is so striking is that this manager has forged a relationship of trust, not just with Patrick, but all the interns. Why does this matter? Steven Covey captures why in his book "The Speed of Trust”. Trust truly is the one thing that changes everything.
So as I reflected on what we heard at the Decision Accelerator it brought to mind the scene from the movie, “When Harry Met Sally,“ when the woman at the table next to Meg Ryan tells the waitress “I’ll have what she’s having!” And what is that? Here’s what our focus group participants said:
And it was clear that our participants had huge pride that the patient care they deliver everyday is outstanding. As one participant put it, “If you have a traumatic injury, you want to come to here. We save people’s lives.”
I want to thank each of the 230 participants in the Decision Accelerator and encourage them to post a note if they’d like to clarify or add to my list above. Hopefully I got it mostly right. I also want to thank two very creative and engaged employees from Clovis, Sarah Anderson and Kim Rodriguez. They came to the session with a spreadsheet if you can believe that, to show us the impact of one particular policy and why we should change it. Kudos ladies - You rock!
We’ve started a list of projects so if you are interested just tap this LINK to the Forum or go to the HR department page on Forum to see what we're working on. The management team is dedicated to taking action, so we can grow and keep your trust. Help us stay on task. With your help we really can accomplish the one thing that changes everything.