There aren’t many people who will say that being a sales clerk is their dream job. And that certainly goes for the 250 employees of Wendy Drummond’s 44 store cellular phone company. As Drummond admitted to a DisruptHR audience in Tulsa,OK, “I can tell you with certainty that not a single one of my employees ever woke up and said, ‘Mommy, when I grow up I want to sell mobile phones.”
When she became CEO a few years ago, it troubled her that none of the employees considered working in retail their dream job. Three years later, few still do. But in-between, Drummond transformed the company from one that considered employees “an easily replaceable commodity,” to one that actively develops the employees, supports them and encourages them to grow.
She recognized that “growing great people is how you grow a great business.” And the “secret sauce,” she explained, is to first recognize that for most of her employees, the job was a way to earn a paycheck; a stepping stone to their dream job, but also to commit to helping them on that path. “While you’re with this company, we’re going to do everything we can to develop you. To make you more confident. Better spoken. Engaged citizens and inspiring leaders.”
As the employees discovered the company was, indeed, investing in them, the culture improved, profitability went up, and turnover went down, Drummond reported. “This is the secret sauce: Growing people.”
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