Businesses are built by growing relationships with customers. Culture is created by the stories those relationships tell. Two of the most important differentiators of a business are its talent and its culture. Talent energized by a compelling culture will drive organizational success and provide innovative growth opportunities for both the business and the individual.
Based on her more than thirty years at Chick-fil-A, most of which have been spent as Vice President, Corporate Talent, Dee Ann Turner shares how Chick-fil-A has built a devoted talent and fan base that spans generations. It's My Pleasure tells powerful stories and provides practical applications on how to develop extraordinary talent able to build and/or stimulate a company's culture.
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About the Author
Dee Ann Turner is a business leader, best-selling author and speaker.
She started her career at Chick-fil-A in 1985 as an administrator in the Human Resources department. During those years, she witnessed significant growth and change. Selected as Chick-fil-A's first female officer in 2001, Dee Ann has led various areas of the business including Human Resources, Franchisee Selection, Culture, Learning and Development, Talent Management and Talent Acquisition. She currently serves as the Vice President, Enterprise Social Responsibility.
In 2015, Dee Ann's first book, It's My Pleasure, The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture was released and became a best-seller. She speaks all over the United States and internationally for both business and non-profit organizations on the topics of leading culture, talent selection and talent development among others. During her tenure at Chick-fil-A, Chick-fil-A has grown from 319 restaurants with $161,500,000 in sales to over 2100 restaurants in 46 states and the District of Columbia with annual sales of over $8 billion.
Married to her husband, Ashley for over 30 years, they are the parents of three grown sons, Trenton, Trevor and Trey and daughter-in-love, Katie. She is an avid sports enthusiast and she and Ashley enjoy traveling and active adventures. Together they serve their local church and Dee Ann has served on the boards of a number of ministries that support initiatives for women and children.
You can connect with Dee Ann on twitter @deeannturner or Instagram @itsmy.pleasure or on Facebook: Dee Ann Turner Author.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Dan Cathy, CEO, Chick-fil-A
The Essence of a Compelling Culture
- Creating a Compelling Culture
Building a Team That Creates a Compelling Culture
- Select Talent
- Sustain Talent
- Steward Talent
- When You Must Say "No"
- What You Get for What You Give
Growing a Compelling Culture Among Your Team
- Consider Your Calling
- Practice Servant Leadership to Strengthen the Culture
- Nurture an Abundancy Mentality to Strengthen the Culture
- Facilitate Opportunities to Strengthen the Culture
- Leverage Loyalty to Strengthen the Culture
- Cultivate Commitment to Strengthen the Culture
- Foster the Dreams of Employees to Strengthen the Culture
Engaging Guests in a Compelling Culture
- Treat Everyone with Honor, Dignity and Respect
- Authentically Demonstrate "It's My Pleasure!"
- Make Second-Mile Service Second Nature
- Create Remarkable Experiences
What People are Saying About This
"This is one of those rare books that contains such deceptively simple wisdom that you'll wonder, 'Why doesn't every company do this?'"
President, The Table Group
Author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Advantage
“Many people love and admire Chick-fil-A. This is a closer look at 'why.' Enjoy and be enriched!”
Dr. Henry Cloud
Author of Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
“Chick- fil-A is an extraordinary organization with one of the most distinctive and most powerful cultures I have ever studied. Dee Ann Turner has done a masterful job of allowing us to see into this culture and understand what makes it so vibrant and so strong.”
“The culture modeled at Chick-fil-A is one to be emulated. Read Dee Ann Turner's It’s My Pleasure and get your organization headed in the right direction.”
Chief Spiritual Officer, The Ken Blanchard Companies
Co-Author of The One Minute Manager and Leading at a Higher Level
"Every business owner, every leader, and every future leader who wants to lead well and create a thriving culture must read this book. It's My Pleasure is a thoughtful blueprint of how to build and sustain a healthy culture. Filled with timeless principles, engaging stories and wise counsel, Dee Ann Turner has created the must have book for leaders."
COO, Propel Women
Author of Breaking Busy
Some memories are imprinted on our minds forever, and the feelings they elicit are stamped on our hearts. At Disney, they say it all began with a mouse. For me, at Chick-fil-A, it all began with a flat tire.
When I began pursuing a job at Chick-fil-A, I knew very little about the company. I grew up in Atlanta eating Chick-fil-A every time we went to the mall and fell in love with the sandwich right from the start. My husband and I had our first date there when I was still in high school, and my mother and I had lunch at Chick-fil-A on my wedding day.
Soon after we were married, my husband was hired to be the pastor at a church down the road from the Chick-fil-A Home Office. Several young people in the youth group worked in the warehouse at Chick-fil-A and invited him to lunch at the office. Each time he went, he would tell me about the beautiful campus, the friendly people and the incredible culture. He soon began encouraging me to apply for a job at Chick-fil-A.
After some coaxing, I finally did apply for a job in Marketing, since I was currently working in the advertising field. I filled out the twelve-page application and mailed it in to Human Resources. Two weeks later, I received my first rejection letter and I thought, “Well, that is that.” Not as easily deterred, my husband continued to encourage me to follow up and apply again. I did and received a second rejection letter. By this time, I was becoming intrigued and had learned enough about Chick-fil-A to know that I was very interested, but not sure how I was going to even get an interview, much less be hired.
After about six months of follow-up phone calls, I was about ready to give up on the idea. One day, a woman came into the church and explained to my husband that she had a flat tire and needed to call for help. Instead, he gladly changed the tire for her. When he finished, she gave him a coupon (known as a Be Our Guest card) for a free Chick-fil-A sandwich. He quickly unearthed that she was an employee with Chick-fil-A, but had to resign because her husband was being relocated out of state. He asked her what department she worked in and she replied, “Advertising.”
As soon as the woman left the church, my zealous husband quickly called me and informed me that Chick-fil-A had an opening in the advertising department—my specialty. I just as quickly picked up the phone and called the same sweet voice in Human Resources for the “umpteenth” time. I guess at this point, they decided I was not going away easily, and I was invited to come in to interview for the job.
Similar to the three follow-up interviews I would have later, my first interview was an all-day visit. I met with members of the Human Resources staff and various members of the Marketing department. The longer I sat on the sofa in the reception area, the more my desire to work for Chick-fil-A grew. I was amazed at the friendliness of the people, especially as I compared it to the firm where I currently worked: what a stark contrast! As I waited for the next interview, the same kind receptionist who had answered all my many phone calls offered me coffee, soft drinks and juices from the break room that provided these free to employees. They took me to lunch in the company café, where lunch is provided to employees at no cost. I toured the fitness center, complete with full-sized racquetball court, and I reviewed the exhaustive list of benefits, including the opportunity to reserve one of Truett Cathy’s Florida beach condos for a week at (you guessed it) no cost.
Perhaps most meaningful to me as I sat on the sofa in the reception area was the opportunity to meet members of the Cathy family and other company leaders as they exited the elevator on the fifth floor. On my second visit, I sat waiting and a gentleman walked up and introduced himself.
“I am Truett Cathy. Thank you for visiting today.”
Thirty years later, we still try to communicate that same level of personal care to our candidates as we get to know each other.
Eventually, after about four months of interviewing, checking references and skill testing, I made it to my final interview. Along the way, I also had been given the opportunity to consider a position within Human Resources as well as in Marketing. It was a tough decision between the two roles and the two departments; I had no idea at the time that this decision would determine the course of my career for decades. Advertising was truly my first love, but I was curious about a different role and a change of pace. My plan was to begin my career in Human Resources and make a move to Marketing within a couple of years. Obviously, that move has not yet occurred, even thirty years later.
This final interview was with Jimmy Collins, who, at the time, was Executive Vice President. Only recently had Jimmy taken over from Truett the responsibility of final hiring interviews. Because Truett believed that decisions about people were the most important decisions, he made sure he was included in the selection process for both staff and restaurant Operators. Once Jimmy received these new responsibilities, the interviews continued to be challenging! He also took great care with those decisions and noticed every detail. He was thoughtful and intense. He was also observant. Were the applicant’s shoes new or shined? Did the candidate wear a watch? Were all the statements in the application true? To Jimmy, new or shined shoes made a statement about professionalism and how much the candidate cared about getting the job. A watch signaled someone who was aware of time, had places to go and made promptness a habit. He was a fact checker on the application. Any slight embellishment or untruth indicated an integrity issue. I remember the question that he asked me that caused me to pause and wonder if I would not get the job: “Are you a perfectionist?” I responded that I believed that I was. He said, “Are the shoes in your closet in order?” When he asked that question, I knew that I was not truly a perfectionist!
Jimmy ended my interview by telling me it was his responsibility to talk me out of the job. I was completely surprised.
Why would the potential employer try to talk the candidate out of the job? He told me much of Chick-fil-A’s success was based on long-term relationships . . . and employment was one of those long-term relationships. He said that if I could be talked out of this decision today, it would be better than in six months or a year when I chose to resign my job, impact my family and make other changes. To this day, I continue to have this conversation with every candidate. It’s an important question. Of course, at the time, in my youth, I was thinking to myself, “Are you kidding me? After this four-month interviewing process and hours sitting on the reception sofa, I am absolutely sure I want this job.” Actually, that is almost verbatim what I said to Jimmy.
Late in the day on an October evening, I returned to the vice president’s office (which is actually my office now) and accepted the lateral offer to leave my company and join Chick-fil-A. I thought it would be a wonderful place to work for a few years until we decided to start our family. Then, I would stay home with my children and be the pastor’s wife. Destiny is a funny thing.
That night, I stood at the railing of the atrium, the very place I often stand today, to reflect on the five floors below and the career I saw ahead of me. I can still re-create the excitement that I had inside of me that night I was hired. I knew I had just become a part of something truly special. There was no possible way at such a young age and so inexperienced at life that I could, in any way, imagine the opportunities that were about to come my way. However, that was the beginning of a journey that shaped my entire adult life. The relationships, business knowledge, experiences and life lessons to follow have been nothing short of remarkable. And, to think, it all started with a flat tire.