The Zingerman’s community of businesses as discussed in Deep Dive 15 are led by Managing Partners (Owners) as discussed in Deep Dive 16. These Managing Partners come together at various times and will make decisions that affect the entire community of businesses. When a decision is to be made they make these by unanimous consensus. All employees are allowed to attend these meetings.
Back in September of 2014 they introduced the program to included 3 staff members in the Zingerman’s Partner Group Consensus. This is a big deal to give the employees more of a voice and to offer a different perspective to the group.
A young chef finds her passion for cooking again, a factory worker’s marriage improves because he’s talking more with his wife, and an owner regains her energy and love for business as she finds a renewed purpose and a vision for her company.
These are a few of the stories I heard while interviewing the gang at Zingerman’s for the first few episodes of the Inspired and Intentional business podcast.
This episode is going to be a brief overview of the top lessons learned and to also point out a few resources I’ve learned of while getting this podcast going.
1. There’s an art to this whole culture thing. To creating and thinking about organizational development. Really thinking through how your people, customers, suppliers and community experience your company. Are you adding benefits beyond pay, product/services and taxes? Why should you?
2. People will make up stories in a vacuum. Fill in the holes with truth, openness, and authenticity. Work through what they need to know by putting yourself in their shoes and thinking through what they worry about. What questions will they ask you?
This really goes beyond the simple issue of being open during a crisis. This vacuum is filled day by day via the building of trust within the team. You can’t be open in a crisis and expect people to believe you, you have to open all the time. During the good and the bad.
This topic came up during the discussion of numbers, salaries, profits and what the owners are making, and why certain decisions are made. If they don’t understand numbers and how a company makes a profit and generates cash…on a daily basis, they will make up stories about where all that money is going. (Probably to the government and the bank! : )
3. Collaboration and consensus doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time and always see eye-to-eye on all decisions. Collaboration does need the parties involved to share values and vision. It also doesn’t mean that every decision has to be by consensus or by democratic vote. Just be clear on how the decisions are being made and who’s involved in the process.
4. Systems help employees consistently perform their best when they otherwise don’t feel like it.
5. Dissent – come up with ways to encourage it. There’s the “what’s working/not working” meeting or the open forum method.
6. Create a system for change. Some call it Kaizen and some continuous improvement. Zingerman’s calls it Bottom Line Change.
7. The importance of a vision. So many of the issues brought up would come down to vision. Do your systems support you vision? Do you HR practices support the vision? People are engaged when they’re clear on the vision, take part in creating it, and understand the role they play in making that vision a reality.
Clarity, communication, and consistency are the 3 “C” words I would use when working with my vision.
Please leave your suggestions for interviews, companies, and resources in the comments below or on one of the following channels:
1. Maggie talked about believing, as she grew up, that business was inherently a bad thing. What attitudes about work and the workplace does your team bring into the decision making process?
2. Maggie says, “the leadership determines the culture of the organization.” What elements of the culture, in your organization, reflect this principle? Do these elements hurt or help the organization meets it’s goals?
3. What are 3 areas of your business would benefit from more consensus? I would challenge you to find some that would benefit from getting consensus from the most entry level people you have.
I would love to see your answers at one of the many Inspired and Intentional outlets:
You can find show notes, the questions, at inspiredandintentional.com/episode004. While there you can also sign up to be kept up to date on the latest podcasts and happenings in the world of Inspired and Intentional business news.
I can also be reached on Twitter @ToddAReed, on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/toddareed, and on Facebook, search for inspired and intentional.
You can get hold of Maggie by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Next week we’ll get a little insight to Zingerman’s process for developing new managing partners as a way to create opportunities for their emerging leaders.
Thank you for listening and until next week, be inspired and intentional.
Maggie Bayless is the Managing Partner of ZingTrain (Zingerman’s Training, Inc.).
Maggie has been associated with Zingerman’s since the Deli opened its doors in 1982. Back then, as a student in the University of Michigan’s MBA program, she left at 4:00 AM every Saturday to drive to the Detroit suburbs and collect the bread needed to make the Deli’s world-famous sandwiches. According to Maggie, “After a week of dealing with business theory, it was great to get behind the wheel of the bread truck. I’d spend my day loading and unloading bread, selling cheese, and helping make a brand new business successful. I’d collapse into bed on Saturday night – physically exhausted but ready to face school again on Monday morning.”
In 1994, Maggie decided to partner with her old pals from Zingerman’s, and Zingerman’s Training, Inc. (a.k.a. ZingTrain) was born in Maggie’s attic. ZingTrain acts as “keeper of the corporate knowledge” within the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, helping Zingerman’s managers improve their departmental training. In addition, ZingTrain shares Zingerman’s expertise with outside clients through seminars, consulting services and customized training. ZingTrain’s clients include specialty food retailers, as well as organizations from many other industries, including banking, real estate, health care, manufacturing and non-profits.
ZingTrain moved from Maggie’s attic, now has its own training space, a staff of 9 and sales approaching $2 million/year.
The inspired and intentional business podcast is copyright 2015 by it’s owner. The music is Funk Game Loop, Kevin MacLeod Royalty Free from Incompatech. Thank you for sharing your talent.