An executive from Home Depot was profiled in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on October 9, 2011. Naturally being in Atlanta and HR I read the story with interest and I soon learned that this Home Depot executive provided some valuable HR lessons in his story. His name is Chris Waits and he has been recently promoted to Regional Vice President. Writer Arielle Kass of the AJC interviewed Mr. Waits. His answers to her questions provide us with the HR lessons. They are:
- Planning is the lesson. Always be prepared for whatever opportunities come your way. “You can’t just react to things all the time,” Chris Waits said. “Life’s a lot more enjoyable when you are prepared. You tend to have better results.” As the Roman philosopher Seneca said “If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him”
- The second lesson is the importance of vision and empowerment. Mr. Waits was asked by Ms. Kass “What are some of the things you’ve done as a leader to change morale?” His answer was “….empowering store managers. First, showing them the vision, give them the direction … then empowering them to make decisions and not Monday-morning quarterbacking them, but allowing them to make some mistakes and have their back.” He added ” … You take care of your people like that and give them that empowerment and show them positive recognition, they’re going to do well. But you also have to be in the stores to recognize them, to catch them doing something right.”
- The third lesson comes from how Mr. Waits treats employees. Ms. Kass quoted him saying “…take care of your people. Focus on your associates and genuinely get to know them and care about them. … If you’re like that even when people aren’t watching, you have a good career. It’s not so much what you do when everyone’s paying attention. It’s when there’s no one else around, are you doing the right things?”
- The fourth lesson deals with recognition. Mr. Waits knows “You just recognize them in front of all of their peers, on the floor, during a walk…. You can’t underestimate how powerful giving someone positive recognition is. Giving people confidence that they’re doing the right thing and that you support them is really big.”
There are some great lessons from Mr. Waits and we would all be well served to learn from his experience.