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A Lasting Impression

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One of the greatest pleasures I received while I was in the military was the opportunity to watch the growth and development of my soldiers. For me, it was a personal accomplishment every time one of my soldiers was promoted or recognized. Unfortunately, with my position of fixed operations director over three stores, I do not get to be involved with most of the employee’s development and growth they way I did in the military. Because of this, when a past employee makes the effort to let me know I have made an impact on his current growth, I get pretty excited.

One Sunday morning, my wife and I decided to go out for breakfast at one of the local family owned restaurants in Leavenworth. This place in known around the area as being the best place for breakfast.  Upon entering the restaurant, I recognized one of the waiters as one of my past employees, Mike. Mike had been part of our detail staff for several years. He started part-time when he was still in high school and became a full-time lead employee after he graduated. He left our company to help his parents start and run the restaurant we were at. Mike and I had several discussions during his tenure with the company to the point that he had a really good understanding of how I look at our employees every time I work through their departments.  

After my wife went to the receptionist to put our name on the waitlist, Mike made it a point to come over and shake my hand and meet my wife. He told her that one of the best things he learned while he was working for us was my saying, “perception is reality” and how I used it daily to keep everyone focused on the customer’s perception of our acts.  He then proudly explained to my wife and me the growth of building his family’s restaurant.

After a while, we were seated in the area Mike was working. He came over and gave us a very polished presentation of how his family got into the business, what their specialties are, and what allowed them to be voted the best breakfast place in the Kansas City area.  My wife was extremely impressed with Mike, and I could not help but to be proud of what the young man had become.

So why am I writing about an ex-employee?  Sometimes, when I need to write my column, I have an extremely hard time coming up with a topic that I can articulate without sounding like I am preaching.  Finally, this time I had to get help. I asked my wife for suggestions about what I could write about and she mentioned our visit with Mike and how when we left his restaurant, I spoke of him and how he had matured into a fine young man. I spoke about him almost in the same way I speak about my children.

Everyone that has been in our business for more than a few years know all of the key indicators and reads articles on how to improve business, so I try to write more about my struggles to get through each day with the illusion of control. With that being said, it’s not all struggles. It’s also good to recognize when a philosophy you use and “preach” to your staff rubs off in a positive way.  


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