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Jack Mitchell: Harness the Power of Workplace Pride

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Give people A PLACE THEY CAN BE PROUD OF, and they will repay you with hard work and loyalty

We hear it all the time from our associates: “We’re proud to be working with you.” That’s because they feel great about the image of our business, and they feel they’re an integral part of the business. They are proud of it. They feel they are the store. 
 
When you work in an open environment where associates have the highest integrity and are very comfortable, then people develop pride. Big time. And that pride exists on several levels, including the inner self-satisfaction of accomplishment and the outer prestige of family, community and friends. When we speak of pride, we mean pride in the company, pride in individual performance, and lots more. 
 
Pride is a potent motivator and a powerful force for cultivating loyalty. But it has to be fed with good stock all the time. Studies show that associates feel a lot of pride when they start a new job, but that it erodes over time. That’s because companies don’t systematically work at maintaining it. 
 
So, how do you build pride? 
 
A big part of it is making it clear that everyone’s job counts whether they’re on the floor or behind the scenes. So you have to demonstrate consistently to everyone that what they do contributes to the well-being of the business. 
 
To build pride, we feel you need to start with four essential criteria: 
 
An inspiring corporate mission statement: It’s important you have a statement of purpose that conveys strong values and worthy principles so associates feel they are doing good by working with you. Mission statements help associates appre-ciate the ultimate importance of what they do. Associates should also be taught the corporate history and the founders’ values. 
 
A clean and attractive work environment: Nobody feels proud of a shabby workplace — tattered carpeting, water dripping from the ceiling, rodents on the loose. We have physical environments we feel are among the best in the world, and we make a point of renovating them regularly — for the benefit of our customers, and just as importantly for the benefit of our associates. 
 
Up-to-date, user-friendly techno-logy: It’s a huge source of pride when our associates tell family members or outside friends that we are leaders in using technology to serve our customers. To be able to point out that we know every single sale to every single customer in Westport since 1989 is nothing but a wow! And it’s user-friendly. I always kid that even a grandparent such as me was able to learn the system and now depends on it! 
 
Educational opportunities: We’ve always viewed our hugging culture as a learning environment. We believe strongly in learning for life. Once you stop learning, it’s basically all over. So we have a Mitchells Hug University that offers courses to staff in everything from Hugging 101 to Advanced Placement Hugging. 
 
We make a point of doing cross-training throughout the store, which engenders a sense of teamwork. For instance, almost everyone in any capacity knows how to ring up a sale. Irene from accounts receivable fills in for the receptionist, and Jean, Tia, Vicki, Dotty, and Denise from customer service help marketing with mailers, and of course everyone makes deliveries. 
 
Over and over again, our people, like Debbie Mazza, say, “I feel like family here!” And she’s been here only a year. Domenic Condoleo echoes that sentiment. And he’s been here 46 years. It’s the power of pride!

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