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How to Develop Your Team Members

QuickChek shares pioneering front-line training at the NACS HR Forum in Nashville this week.
March 23, 2017

​NASHVILLE – When one of your biggest hiring challenges is competing with other c-stores on higher pay, how do you invest in new employees once you have them on board? In “Developing Our Team Members” at this week’s NACS HR Forum, session copresenters Bob Graczyk and Joanne Loce set out to answer just that question. In an innovative presentation format that kicked off day two of the conference, Loce, president of Loce Consulting and HR Forum moderator, was joined virtually via Google Hangouts by Graczyk, vice president human resources of New Jersey-based QuickChek Corporation.

Graczyk talked about participating in the NACS Foundations of Personal Leadership Program in New Jersey six weeks ago, when about 25 members of the QuickChek team worked together on building “soft skills” at the front-line level. The full-day session was intended as training for supervisors and employees, but not as a typical supervisory or management exercise. Instead, it focused on increasing self-awareness and working together effectively, and how that extends to customer service.

The program stressed that these “soft” or interpersonal skills help form the foundations of customer excellence, team membership and a positive company environment. Loce, who led the training for QuickChek, stressed that anyone can be a leader regardless of title, since everyone can role-model constructive behaviors that promote culture, customer centricity and business results.

“At the team level, we tend to teach people the technical skills. But part of doing their job is how they work together on the team,” Graczyk said. He noted that training participants saw the behaviors of their fellow team members in a new way, which ultimately helped them understand each other better.

After a seven-hour day of instruction, part of the idea of the NACS Foundations of Personal Leadership program is that the relatively small group of trainees would be able to quickly and easily apply learnings back on the job. The real application from the training will be to enhance employees’ personal leadership. Their ability to think and behave differently will hopefully foster an outstanding culture for customers and colleagues.

From the HR Forum audience, an attendee asked what effect the training has had on employees since they’ve returned to their stores. Graczyk said he’s still awaiting the final feedback because they’ve given the program 60 days to incubate before evaluating the final results. All participants in the program wrote themselves a personal letter about what they’d like to change in their work style, and the letters will be revisited in early April as part of the 60-day feedback.

“It’s important for people to understand that this is a commitment you’re making,” Loce said. “This isn’t attending a class and then you walk away.”

Wrapping up the session, HR Forum attendees broke out into table discussions about how training of this type could be made possible at their organizations and the benefits their companies would require in order for it to work.

Following Loce and Graczyk’s presentation, HR Forum attendees participated in a pop-up panel on recruitment, in which the audience passed the mic to share innovative hiring ideas being implemented at their companies. Later, Loce presented on how HR leaders can accelerate the adoption of change in their organizations; and Cindi Summers, senior VP–human resources, and Marcella Burkheimer, human resources supervisor, both of Iowa-based Casey’s General Store, led a session on implementing automated HR solutions.

For coverage of these sessions and more from the 2017 NACS HR Forum, tune in to Monday’s NACS Daily and the June issue of NACS Magazine.