Find and keep the best employees
The challenge that stands out most to Johnston in his years with the company is the attraction and retention of talented team members, both in management and service personnel.
The development of the mission, vision and principles has been a major key in reducing the problem. Because there are concrete beliefs set up through the mission, vision and principles, current and potential employees know what is expected of them.
“When that’s clear, you get benefits in two areas,” he says. “It benefits the existing leadership and management, but it also provides this benefit as a recruiting tool. It’s a magnet that kind of draws toward you people that are like-minded.”
Once the mission, vision and principles were clearly identified, Johnston had something that was portable and easily shared with his existing team members, franchisees and management.
“Really, it has served us in many areas and … this clearer understanding of mission, vision and principles that we use to make our daily decisions became a recruiting tool,” he says. “It was kind of a litmus test of sorts [that] we shared with perspective franchisees and perspective team members and management candidates. We shared with them how we make decisions and the things that we believed. We have found effective ways of testing whether they have a higher likelihood of embracing these principles and using them in their daily decision-making or not. If they do, then they are attracted to the brand and pulled into the organization and help us grow. If they don’t, then, ultimately, it results in turnover, which is very costly in terms of hard dollars and soft dollars, and it takes away from our focus on our customer service mission when we have turnover.”
When hiring, Johnston wants to find flaws in a potential team member or where they might lack in regards to the mission, vision and principles.
“A lot of times, we get into a room with a potential team member and we tend to only see the things that we like about them; this is the one time to deny your human nature,” he says. “Don’t look for the things that you like about this person. Find out what’s wrong with them. Find out what you don’t like about them. What doesn’t fit in this picture?”
Johnston says he has trouble in this area and has a tendency to only want to be friendly with job candidates. That’s why he depends on others to help him in the interviewing process.
“We give them over to our existing team members and let them spend time together because some real interesting things happen during that interaction,” he says. “They step out of the interview mode and really, all of a sudden, become themselves alongside people who they think are going to be their peers, and they might be their peers. That’s where some real great learning takes place about the individual.”
The mission, vision and principles are now in print on trifold business cards that all team members carry with them to help guide them when faced with a decision. Though the card is a guide, the employee has the power to make a decision, instead of waiting for someone else to make the call. That empowerment develops employees who want to stay and grow with the company.
“So, what this whole clear understating of our principles and mission and vision, what it really results in is independence,” he says. “Team members are made more self-reliant, and they are able to make decisions on their own without having hand-
holding going on. And, the decisions they make tend to mirror the decisions of the principles, of the company and the top-level management, and that’s real power. When you have that in an organization, you have real power and now you are ready to grow.”