Last week I traveled to Washington, D.C., to join Mattress Firm at their annual leadership conference “BEDTalks.” My first thought before committing to go was, “Great, another couple days of meetings, listening to people talk about the mission statement, how to drive sales this Presidents’ Day, and some B.S. rah-rah conversation about people being the key to our business!”
It was nothing like that – at all – except for the part about them telling us how important their people are to the growth of the company; but when they say it, you believe it because their actions back it up.
This meeting lasted an entire week and consisted of their key operations, sales, marketing, leadership training, and finance people. On top of that, they invite their key suppliers to attend and participate fully to benefit from the week just as much as the MFRM team does. (And help support part of the costs which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a point of fact.) They have a professional company produce the event, and my man Walter Kinzie with Encore Live does a fantastic job – if you are ever in the market for someone who does that kind of thing.
The goal for Mattress Firm is to 1) remind people why they love MFRM, 2) celebrate 2013 and align around the strategies for 2014 and 3) expose you to thought leadership. To help them do that, there were live bands and other entertainment, plenty of great food, break-out sessions filled with information to help the company grow, fantastic speakers (many of whom are from their own company), and a large area displaying all their new retail concepts. In short, this meeting has it all. So why am I writing about it now?
When I see a company get it right, I want to shine a light on that because you don’t see it all that often. Here are five things that Mattress Firm does to IGNITE its team that really captured my attention:
- They celebrate their people in a way that really inspires the organization. Their awards night looked like something out of Hollywood. The emcee calls your name and you walk past the DJ and drummer as they welcome you to the stage along with a serious round of applause. When your name gets called at that event, you feel like you just won the lottery. You could just see the pride on their faces as they returned to their seats. What a cool thing to do for people.
- They drive purpose into the organization. What is your emotional reason to exist as a company? If you leave the Mattress Firm meeting thinking these people sell mattresses, you haven’t been paying attention. They really want to exceed the
customers’ expectations and leave them happier as a result. In addition, they understand their responsibility to serve the communities where they live. They are all
about giving back and the connection they have to TGen and the Seena Magowitz Foundation is a great example of this. They actually had Dr. Von Hoff from TGen come and speak to Mattress Firm so they could connect their employees to the work TGen is doing as a result of their fundraising. They followed that up with a group exercise where they all went out and spent a half-day doing charity work for Special Olympics in D.C. It is about what they do, not what they say.
- They value the intangibles. It would be very easy for a bean counter (no offense to bean counters out there) to say, “HEY, we can’t spend this kind of money on a meeting and take all our people out of the field for an entire week!” Believe me, I respect that opinion, and maybe they could have saved a few bucks doing things differently, but that really isn’t the point. This kind of meeting can do things for your organization that can’t easily be measured. If I told you I could make your team more engaged, more efficient, and willing to run through a brick wall to meet the business objectives – as well as being happier and more enthusiastic while they do it – would you be interested?
- Not only do they get their people on the bus, they bring the supplier community along for the ride. There are awards for suppliers as well as an opportunity to engage the entire organization all week long. My guess is that the conversations over breakfast are more important than anything that goes on in a meeting. If you communicate your vision to EVERYONE that plays a roll in your success, your odds of being successful increase greatly. Do your suppliers know exactly what you are trying to accomplish and how they can best support you?
- Mattress Firm understands the culture piece to business. I read once that culture beats strategy every day of the week. Not that strategy isn’t important, but if your culture isn’t right, it doesn’t really matter.
I have known Steve Stagner, the CEO of Mattress Firm, for a long time and seeing this meeting first-hand does not surprise me at all, given who their leader is. Steve has done a terrific job helping Mattress Firm navigate its way to where it is, but he would be the first to tell you the credit really belongs to his team. To all of you, I say excellent job and thank you for the first-hand look at what GREAT companies do to make good things happen.
Do you work at Mattress Firm? Tell me about your experience in the comments section or send a tweet to @joplinquinn.