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Front End Meetings Keep Us Energized!

One of our five values at Festival Foods is associate development. We use various forms of associate development, ranging from our bagger and cashier training programs to daily coaching, 90 day and annual performance reviews, and department meetings. Certain types of associate development, like daily coaching and performance reviews, typically are one-on-one, between the associate and a leader they frequently work with. Other types of development, like training programs and department meetings, are often held in a group setting to involve as many associates as possible. During the last six years I have participated in almost every form of associate development, the one exception being department manager meetings. I recently had the opportunity to attend the front end manager meetings in De Pere. These meetings are held twice annually and provide two days of training, growth, and development for the 16 front end managers Festival currently employs. The first day we had two main topics to focus on: bagger training and recruiting impact. Being a bagger trainer and an employee who interviews some of our potential new hires, I was excited to learn more about both of these topics. The bagger training presentation, simply put, gave me ideas about how to make bagger training more worthwhile for our new associates. I never would have thought to show associates how to match the barcode on a product to the barcode on the shelf tag, and who knew you could wrap up a bag of beans in paper from the meat department to look like a package of steak or ribs?! It was a reminder to me that things I would consider “common sense” after working in a grocery store for several years are not necessarily common sense to someone starting their very first job.

[caption id="attachment_2563" align="aligncenter" width="468" caption="New associates at the Darboy store going through bagger training. "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2564" align="aligncenter" width="489" caption="Here I am teaching our new associates how to properly bag groceries. "][/caption]

The presentation on recruiting covered how to effectively coach associates and what to look for during an interview. Based on this presentation, I was reminded that building a relationship with associates is necessary before any effective coaching can be done, and how important it is to coach associates on a daily basis and ask open-ended questions to understand why they do what they do. Last but not least, follow-up is crucial. When you follow-up with an associate, they see that you care about them. As far as interviewing goes, I learned two big things. First, to stay consistent with the questions I ask during an interview to make comparing and contrasting answers easier. Second, when positions open up internally they should be posted so anyone who is interested has a fair chance and can interview for the position. The second day we focused on a few additional topics, including specific skills needed to be successful  in other departments, how we account for and measure labor and productivity, different types of associate recognition, and some new promotions that will soon be available on the Festival Foods facebook page. We also squeezed in a field trip to Lambeau Field! I found it very beneficial to hear what the perimeter departments (produce, deli, meat, etc.) look for in an employee since we frequently promote front end associates to those departments once they have a good understanding of Festival culture. We are constantly recognizing associates for positive performance, but it was refreshing to get ideas about how to get associates’ families involved in the recognition in addition to other employees.

[caption id="attachment_2565" align="aligncenter" width="512" caption="Festival Foods Front End managers took some time out to visit Lambeau"][/caption]

I am so glad I had the chance to attend these meetings and get some new ideas to use with my team of 80+ associates. These meetings not only gave me resources to continue improving and developing myself and my team, they also reminded me how lucky I am to work for a company that truly values its employees and customers and as a result is constantly growing!
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