“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The story teller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.”

Steve Jobs

I was checking out my groceries recently at a store near my home when a very pleasant teenage cashier (with a big smile) asked me if I was heading home from work for the day.

This was an opportunity for me to tell my story. No, I told her, I had just retired from the great supermarket chain she had just started working for. I had given 41 years of service in helping to build the HR department that now supports her and 50,000 of her fellow workers.

She looked at me and stated “this company rocks”(with an even bigger smile). What a sense of pride I felt. I had…serious goosebumps. And then, unexpectedly, she said “autograph please”? I was flattered and momentarily speechless, until I realized she meant for me to sign the credit card screen! Then I was chastened… and humbled.

But what makes an employee state that her company “rocks”? Pride, of course.

The Great Places To Work Institute defines a great place to work as a workplace where employees:

  • Trust the people they work for (assessed through employee perceptions of Credibility, Respect, and Fairness);
  • Have Pride in what the do; and
  • Experience Camaraderie with their colleagues.

“Trust” and “Camaraderie” can be bolstered by a culture of shared values and mission—essential goals for all companies. But what instils “Pride” in what you do and in the organization that you work for? That answer lies in having meaningful work.

Finding meaning in the work you do has its roots a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose can only be achieved by understanding the effect your actions have on others, particularly in face-to-face interactions. The cashier that I encountered had been onboarded recently to the supermarket she now worked for by being systematically exposed to stories of incredible service that had been performed by her predecessors. On her first day of work following her training, therefore, she was armed with not only the skills to check people (like me) out with a great smile but also with the pride she felt that she had received in the stories she heard in her initial and ongoing training. Now she had just created her own story, a story that will make other people smile…when I tell it to them.

If your company documents stories of great service by particular employees—like this one—and then shares those stories with your other employees, these stories will be repeated over and over again and will become part of your company culture. Stories are how traditions of great service are developed over time, giving your employees a good dose of pride in what they and their supervisors and colleagues have accomplished.

That young woman’s company had received 20 years of recognition on Fortune’s list of the top 100 companies to work for in America, most recently #2 for the third time since being voted #1 in 2005. Sure, I am proud of that. But I am more proud that she thinks the place she works for “rocks.”


(Copyright © 2017 by Gerard Q. Pierce. All rights reserved by Smart Recipe, Inc. For permission to reproduce or further information, go to www.smartrecipe.com.)