I love pretzel rods. When I was a kid I would pretend they were cigarettes (hey it was before the Surgeon General). They are a great snack.
I recently bought a tub of pretzel rods and was reminded of how a similar tub of pretzels once made my career!
Several years ago I was a field manager with Pearle Vision in New England. I had about 50 franchise locations that I assisted. I’d been with the company about 12 years and loved my job. However, there is always that desire to be promoted and have more opportunities to make a difference. My opportunity came in 1999 when I was promoted to Director of Corporate Stores and moved to Ohio to work in the home office.
In my interview with the vice president of stores, Peggy Deal, I asked “how will you know you’ve selected the right person for the job?”
“When they start coming to you for the answers instead of me.”
I remembered that and was sad to realize that during my first few weeks, people walked past my door to her corner office. How could I get people to come to me? They didn’t know me. They didn’t trust me. They had no way of knowing if I could help them. Conversely – how would I ever develop relationships with the other associates to learn about them, if they never came in my office?
So one day while at Sam’s Club I bought the biggest tub of pretzels I could find. I put the tub on my side table and let a few people know that they were welcome to stop by for a pretzel if they needed a mid-day pick me up.
The word spread and pretty soon people were coming to my office. People from the mail room up to and including the president, would stop by for a snack and a chat. We started to learn about each other. And soon people came to my office for a pretzel and to let me know about a new project they were working on.
They came to vent.
They came for my opinion.
They came because they needed a sounding board.
They came for my ideas.
They came for my answers.
Sometimes they just came for a pretzel.
However, in less than six months the stream of people going to my boss’ office took a detour – allowing her to work on the bigger picture items.
All on a count of a tub of pretzel rods.
What tool have you used to help build relationships with those you work with?