Learning how to smile

staff motivationI have just had one of those really special moments, one of those moments when you know you have done your job really well and you get that special tingle inside.

Paul (not his real name) has just popped in to tell me he has just had an interview for a store manger’s post at a Co-operative store. I know some will already be thinking that’s not very exciting, but you did not hear the pride in his voice or know the journey he has been on.

Seven years ago I employed Paul to keep the shop tidy and do a few handy man jobs, which we were not keeping on top of. Paul had been unemployed for two years after a work place injury. He was attending hundreds of interviews and failing to secure a post. He had no confidence or self esteem.

I don’t think Paul smiled for the first 12 months, but gradually he opened up to myself and the staff giving us glimpses of his less than happy childhood. Gradually he grew in confidence.

We offered him the chance to do an NVQ 2 in Customer Services which took him to the next level. He interacted with customers and began to genuinely smile, this followed on with an NVQ in Retail and Paul was on his way. The work whilst easy for some was not for Paul, he often wrote up his coursework with a dictionary which could take hours, but he was determined. We encouraged him every step of the way.

Sadly we had no more roles to challenge him and with our blessing he got a part time job at a Co-operative store, which naturally progressed to a full time post when they saw the potential that we saw in him.

So Paul’s just popped in to tell me: a) he got a chance to be interviewed for the Store Manager’s Role b) he loved the interview, even if he doesn’t get the job and told them a few home truths (which I won’t print here, but let’s say I hope they listen to him because I know he’s right) c) on the internal grading system at the co-op he is more qualified than the current deputy store manager, because he did the NVQs with us d) thank us for giving him a chance to show his potential

He had the biggest smile on his face and wanted to tell me he was doing well, and that’s what I want for my staff – for them to succeed.


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