“Without investment there will not be growth, and without growth there will not be employment”
–Muhtar Kent, Chairman and former CEO of The Coca-Cola Company
“He was letting his team down. Then Chris made the connection. Work, team, money for a living, it was all intertwined” Steve McBride, VP of Commercial Services says of Chris after a breakthrough conversation they had in 2018. Chris Peterson started work with the Skils’kin Commercial Services crew late in 2016. He was assigned to a dynamic crew that covered several janitorial and grounds jobs around Spokane. This was Chris’s second job, so everything felt very fresh to him, and he was engaged. For the next year, Chris rode this wave and was able to hold the job and really made a community in the commercial services crew.
By the start of 2018, Chris was well established and comfortable with his position and crew in commercial services. Steve McBride recalls Chris’s exceptionally positive attitude. He was social and always knew how to crack a joke to get a laugh from his team. A personality like that can lighten the mood and make the day pass by quickly. But a personality like that is even more noticeable when it is missing. Suddenly Chris was lacking investment with several no-call-no-shows marring his attendance. With his supervisor, Nichole Garcia, new to the team she was not about to let him get away with this, and disciplinary write-ups were enforced. It was time for reconciliation and some clarification of what was happening. Chris had lost sight of how his team relies on him. It was more than being there when he could be, it was being there when he was needed. In return Steve and Nichole wanted to give him the variety of work he desired, assigning him to a new out-of-town project Skils’kin was starting. From then on Chris was back to being the go-to guy for important projects. Communication can cleanse a lack of communication and change the course of a relationship.
The rest of the year continued on a trend of growth. Chris was willing to invest in his work and his team, showing up on time and providing a positive attitude for the team, and Steve and Nichole continued to engage his desire to grow, inviting him to work on projects where he could develop new skills. But over time it became clear to both parties that he was ready to move on. Chris then began to work with Steve to develop a new job outside of Skils’kin, and transition out of the commercial services crew. Chris’s investment in Skils’kin Commercial Services easily translated to investment in work and holding a job.
When I met with Chris at his new job as a Courtesy Clerk at Yoke’s Fresh Market he was quick to explain what his job meant to him. “It’s very important to me. I think I like helping others and getting to know people, but I also need to get paid.” Chris explained to me the balance his job provides him. He has bills to pay and a lifestyle that wouldn’t be possible without his paychecks, but he really feels invested in his job as a person that thrives and grows in a social and active environment like Yoke’s. From his position in commercial services he gained communication and leadership skills, it opened his eyes to how others relied on him, and it allowed him to prioritize and value the quality of his work.
When I finished interviewing Chris for this story he shook my hand and promptly went to clock in as his shift started. I stayed behind to observe him work. As he walked away from the time clock he was at work—full smile, seamlessly available to whichever checkout station needed him, “paper or plastic?”, and thoughtful attention to each customer he served. In my experience, I’ve seen many people go to work, but Chris’s ability to shift his focus to his work was truly exceptional in my opinion. It was a noticeable investment in his work, and an unwillingness to let a moment be underperformed.