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No News Is Good News (Not)

by Adam Zack — November 8, 2017

El Jefe (Spanish for “the chief” or ”the boss”

I know this guy who owns a store and he was telling me a story about his store. He had set up a demo of a product by a vendor and committed to supply some sausage for the demo. Problem was he forgot to tell anyone at the store about it. So the demo person shows up when he’s not there and is looking for the sausage. No one at the store knew a thing about it. They are a good team, so they took care of business. When he got back to the store the next day, his maintenance supervisor told him the story, and said: “Communication, Jefe*, communication”.

I grew up in an era of management and ownership where communication was non-existent to weak at best. The boss would swing through the store, declare the areas of his dissatisfaction, and move on to the next store. The departments that were spared the critiques felt a surge of relief, declaring “Whew! No news is good news!” They took it as a compliment that their department was good enough to not have any corrections pointed out. That’s terrible leadership. The boss couldn’t take the time to be like Santa and at least have a “good” and “bad” list. How hard would it be to point out something that pleased Jefe and not just what displeased him? Our grocery business is notorious for the lack of communication. We have hundreds of employees who make mostly marginal salaries (because of super tight margins, competition and business expenses, not because we are cheap) who are the direct conduit to our customers, and many times we can’t take the time to communicate a compliment or a plan. It seems like basic common sense, but it takes effort and conscious thought. Every day, Jefe.

* El Jefe (f. La Jefa) is a Spanish term meaning “the chief” or “the boss” 

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