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A question of need

by Adam Zack — January 16, 2019

Adam Zack

The meeting is called “Feelings”

“I need you more than you need me.” Said the CEO of a nearly $100 million dollar company to the new hire. And the new hire was a courtesy clerk. A box person. And he meant it. Now I am sure you are thinking that this is some kind of crazy dream I had after a big meal of spicy Asian food. Or some kind of fabled story out of a motivational book that no one has ever actually seen done. Real life CEOs don’t say that to the new hires, right? Heck, CEOs rarely even come in contact with new hires at all. So many company leaders I have seen over the years champion “Our employees are our greatest asset!”, meanwhile their actions tell a different story. The bottom line is more important than any employee. Management bonuses take precedence over the associates that are toiling in the trenches.

The “big picture” always excludes the “little guy.” It’s the norm in most businesses, and businesses have been very successful doing it that way for centuries. That is why I was awestruck as Norman Mayne, owner and CEO of Dorothy Lane Markets in Dayton, Ohio told me his philosophy on his employees. He explained that although they may need the job, they really don’t need him. They can get another job. He needs them to keep his stores running so well. All new employees at Dorothy Lane, about 4-6 weeks after they start work, attend a meeting headed by Norman. The meeting is called “Feelings” – because it’s about the feelings of the employee towards the customer, towards company, towards their fellow employees. The owner and CEO meets every single employee. He talks about the company, about his philosophies, about the customers. He talks basics, explains the economics of the business, listens and answers questions and is 100% transparent. He may do 4 or 5 of these meetings in a month, depending on the time of year. I don’t know anyone who lives that commitment, especially with a workforce of 800 employees and three different locations.

I need you more than you need me. That’s what you say to a girlfriend who wants to leave you. It’s what you say to a great sandwich. It’s what you say to your plastic surgeon. And now it’s what you say to every new employee, and you mean it.

Read More – Herb Kelleher

Filed Under: Company Blog

2 responses to “A question of need”

  1. Scott Lawhon says:

    Sounds like it was a great trip. I worked with a company owner that ran his business the same way and his employees would have followed him anywhere.

  2. Lila Fulton says:

    …and from my unbiased position, you’re a good example of Norman’s work place philosophy yourself.

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