Set a goal

What do a package delivery company and a 20th century psychologist have to do with selling and servicing boats?

Ask Bill Fraine, general manager of Legendary Marine (Ranked 52 in 2006), the five-store dealer headquartered in Destin, Fla., with locations in the Florida Panhandle and Gulf Shores, Ala. During a long career at FedEx, Fraine developed a benchmarking philosophy for employees that carried over to Legendary Marine, where he started the practice in January.

“I learned in my years of leadership that 99 percent of the employees came to work every day to excel at what they did,” Fraine says. “The reason many fell short of the mark was because they did not know where the goal line was.” That’s why Fraine developed benchmarks for minimum expectations. Once employees know what’s expected of them, most tend to overachieve, he notes.

To benchmark Legendary Marine, Fraine sat down with department leaders to create and review satisfactory specs for each job description. The general categories include quality, productivity, job knowledge, reliability, attendance, independence, creativity, initiative, adherence to policy, interpersonal relationships and judgment.

When asked whether the system has improved employee productivity and morale, Fraine points to Abraham Maslow, a psychologist who developed the “Hierarchy of Human Needs.” The hierarchy is a pyramid divided into deficiency needs and growth needs. Deficiency needs at the pyramid’s base include such things as food, clothing, shelter, safety, a sense of belonging and esteem. Further up the pyramid one finds growth needs, which are fulfilled after deficiency needs are met and include a need to know and understand, aesthetic needs, self-actualization and transcendence.

“An employee cannot realize ‘self-actualization’ (or other needs) if they do not know where they stand in their work life,” Fraine says. “Many of us derive who we are from what we do. Understanding clearly how well I am performing allows for confidence and growth. Taking the time to ensure each employee knows his job expectations and understands his performance level is the key to success with employees.”

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