Okay, I stumbled across an old Ask a Manager column where she called for amazing work memos from completely bonkers management. The thread was hilarious and I would like to do the same here, mostly because I would like to reshare mine. Unfortunately, it is very, very long. But I think it is worth it. Think Trashroom story worth it. But still, long. Very long. So I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to go on that journey, but I invite everyone to submit their own posts.
Okay, on to mine. This occurred in Borders bookstore a couple years before its eventual (and sad) demise. Julio had just been promoted to District Manager. This is his first communication (meant only for store managers, but these things travel). In his following relatively brief stint in the role, every single store manager in his region quit because of him. One, a great man who had been with the company for 20 years, quit after receiving this very memo. In defense of his grammar and strange use of punctuation, English is not Julio’s first language. He came up through the company in our stores in Puerto Rico. Last I heard, he’s working for Pet Smart back in Puerto Rico.
I am going to beat the dead horse. I feel the need to explain it again.
Today is a gift. Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery.
We need to do, what we need to do today. We cannot let something for tomorrow.
This email will not motivate you, will not make you feel better and it definitely will not make me the most loved and popular boss in the world, but this email will tell you exactly what I need from you and will help you decide if you are willing to do what I need you to do or it will tell you several times that it’s time to leave with dignity. I like all of you at a personal level and I even enjoy your company, but I get paid to do a job and I am planning to do it perfectly even if that means working 7 days a week, 24 hours and traveling all the time. But my goal is to start Q2 with the right results.
These are my expectations and standards, but before. I recommend you print this email and read it carefully because it is a long email that will face you with many things that you may not like. Also I will be mentioning GM is the most important and highest position in the stores, but if you are not a GM. This email is intended for you department and area of responsibility too, either if you are a buyer, warehouse magr or LP.
My expectations and standards are:
- You need to have flawless execution. I said flawless execution.
- You need to execute flawlessly and then some, but some will never come before flawless execution.
- You are the leader of your store. You are. You are. And I expect you to know everything that happens in your store when you are physically there or and when you are not. And I am talking about everything. Including what item did not arrive. What item was substitute in any table? Everything means everything. Cash office, inventory, cafe, supplies, food, sales, profit, section maintenance, everything means everything. That is my expectation.
- I need you to walk your store completely every single day and maybe several times a day. This includes Cafe and maybe I should say. Specially the Cafe! You have to walk your Cafe every day.
- We need to stop blaming other people, corporate or ex-leaders. We are responsible for the status of our stores and we are the ones to blames. No one else. You are. Only you and no one else.
- I will not accept excuses like: Anne approves it. Bill approves is. Kelly approves it. Or anything else like that. NOW IS ME. NOW IS JULIO. I am seeing the final result of those approval and I am sure that if any leaders that approved anything will see what they approved, I am sure that they will unapproved it. From now on it is what I say or the highway.
- You need to walk your store answering these questions every single day and maybe several times in a day:
*Every single table, Floor stack, End cap, and Fixture. Everything needs to be where it is intentionally. Intentionally because YOU analyzed the business and that is the PERFECT place for that. The perfect place.
*You need to ask yourself: If tomorrow will be my very first day opening this store. Grand Opening Day. Will I have this (table, endcap, product, item, donut, pencil, table, screen, whatever) where it is right now? ANd if the answer is no. The change it. No exception. No matter how much sense it makes. If the answer is no. If tomorrow will be my grand opening day I will not have this here. Don’t leave it there. Change it immediately.
*You need to ask yourself: what is the message that this table (or whatever it is) is telling my customer? If the answer is not crystal clear. Change it. Change it immediately.
*GM’s need to be able to answer any questions without the need of having to call anyone else. That is my expectations. You either own the building or know everything or you’re not. Leave.
- you own the store. You! Not me. Not Bill. Not Ron. Not corporate. So please, please, please, Never ever tell me that you are waiting for corporate. Never. You have to start owning the store. and if you know what this means. It means that you should not be where you are. I am not saying that you will not execute and follow directions, I am not saying that, I am not saying that you will take decisions different of the directions that we have in place from corporate. but again. If you don’t understand what I mean, this is clear message that you need to leave. If you don’t understand that You ownt the building buit you need to execute flawlessly. You are in the wrong position.
*I don’t want to sugar coat everything and I don’t want to hurt feelings or be rude. But the reality is that for some of you and you know who you are. Is time to leave. This is not the Borders you want. This is not the Borders you enjoy. It’s really time to leave. Please. Leave. If you are not enjoying what you’re doing. It may be time for you to leave. Because this is the career we choose and we either do it perfect and flawlessly or don’t do it.
*I can not. I can’t ever repeat the same things again and again. If I tell you to do something about something. My expectations are that you will do it as soon as possible. Preferably before I leave the store or at least before my next visit. If I have to repeat myself, I will do it in a PDR.
*I ask you this. If I was interviewing you because you were unemployed and can not pay your debts, but have the GM experience and i ask you to do this job under the very worst circumstances. Very little payroll. Section movements, High Standards, high expectations, flawless execution, high csi, high Borders rewards, low shrink in the store and cage, to be the #1 in make items, to be #1 in everything but giving you nothing. Just depending on your GM experience, talents and skills to meet these expectations. Will you take the job? Will you tell me. Julio. You have the right person in front of you! Will you say that? If you say those words. Please stay, but if you are not willing to do what I need you to do or do not have the experience to do it. Please Leave.
*If I was going to ask you. Do you have the talent, experience, knowledge and skills to do all these and spend 10, 12, 14, 16 hours daily to meet those expectations? Will take the job? Will you? Please be honest with me. Will you?
- Imagine this. If I was going to ask you. Could you work for free until the economy gets better? Will you? Now imagine this. We are going to the shareholders and we are asking them to invest in our company but we are telling that that we are going to lose money. But we need this money. Wil they invest?
*today, I had a very nice conversation with a Gm and she was telling me that she does not understand how Alex at store 231 make it with the little payroll that he has, the little mgmt structure that he has and she could not believe how beautiful and great his store on Wednesday and my response was. Because he has to. I have stores in Puerto Rico with similar volumes as the stores in FL using 200 and 300 hours more than FL and they are always complaining that they need more payroll. I also remember when the stores used to have 1200 and 1400 houses and the issues was exactly the same. That is why I know that payroll does not fix the problem. Mgmt skills do. An Excellent GM and Leader will have a beautiful store because he or she know that store represent him or her. An excellent GM does not need a boss. An excellent GM does not need external motivation.
*I am going to ask you to do thins that you will think that I am crazy. That I am out of my mind. But not. On the contrary. It was crazy not to do it before. It’s crazy if I don’t tell you that.
*You need to understand that we are in a time that is make it or break it. We will do what we have to do or the economy and the time will make Borders disappear.
- I am not the flavor of the month. Bill is not the flavor of the month. Ron is not the flavor of the month. I am here to stay and change the business, so are Bill and Ron. And you either with me or need to leave.
*If you are planning to complain to me. Don’t do it. If you are planning on telling me how difficult is the job. Don’t do it. Just leave. I know how hard it is and I also know that if it was easy, Anyone will do it. It was made to be difficult and hard, it was made to do it by leaders with skills and talents. Example: Imagine yourself running a marathon. Imagine that you have to run 26 miles tomorrow. Can you run it? Can you do it? If you train for a year. can you do it? Maybe not. Because to run a marathon is not just about running, is about enduring, is about training, is about dedication, is about hard work, is about discipline, is about continue running when all you body is telling you that is tire, that can not do it anymore, that it hurts but you continue running anyway until you finish. It’s about having the hear and personal goal to do it, because you have the talent and skills to do it. It’s not about running, is about a lot more.
*let me tell you something else. I can talk and talk and talk, but if you haven’t understand the message so far. I can talk and talk all day long and you will never understand. I am going to finish by saying this: You know who you are. You know if you can make it or not. You know it. Don’t lie to you. Don’t lie to you. Leave and avoid the part of me letting you go. If you are planning to stay, you only can stay if you do everything that I have written so far and then more. A lot more!!! Or please leave. See you either this week or next week. This message is for all of you. Not just for some of you. But if you feel like you can do everything. Discard this e-mail and go to make money and raise the expectations.
Note: as I said. This e-mail is not intended to be rude, but I need you to face reality and have clear expectations of what I will be asking and expecting from now on I will not be accepting excuses. But if you feel offended. I am going to ask you: Why? Why do you? Please. Let’s have conversation and I can tell you why, but that will hurt, because I will be honest with you.
District Manager “