The Invisible Link


A few weeks ago I wrote about mission statements and the importance of role modelling for your team whatever it is that you want the business to stand for. And last week I wrote on the topics of difficult conversations and managing the bottom 10%  of your work team. Today I’d like to emphasize the link between hard conversations and really nailing your business objectives.

I suspect every entrepreneur experiences times when a team member’s work is not in keeping with the entrepreneur’s vision – until the business is up and running, nobody can really know what it is that the business owner wants to achieve and how he or she is going to go about it. In PGB’s case, I wrote a simple two-pronged “mission statement” in my original business plan: make TO’s best cupcakes and provide exceptional service, but those lofty sounding goals can be interpreted a million ways. For example in the early weeks of the bakery in 2011, the piping on the cupcakes was not always uniform or the vanilla minis were too brown…or maybe a customer service professional would say, “Hey, no problem” instead of “You’re welcome, it’s my pleasure” when a customer said “Thanks”. For some  business owners,  these occurrences may be just fine and in keeping with their vision. For me, these were “misses” and were not in line with what I intended – the question then was, what was I going o do about it?


I’ve always been fortunate to have a head baker and a customer service manager who totally “get” where I am coming from in my quest to set and maintain the two-point standards I mentioned above, in accordance with my personal views on high quality baking and great service. So right out of the gates there were three of us who were not tempted to just “let it go” even though it isn’t fun to coach someone on what can come across as nit-picking details.

And then when we opened the next two stores, the people managing those stores had been trained by the people managing the first store, so the conscious, deliberate focus on the details morphed its way into the culture. Writing that, it sounds simple and I would say that it IS simple but it requires focus. There are many ways to instil “the right way to do things”: team manuals, team meetings, my weekly team Google Groups posts that go to everyone’s email, the monthly All-Stars’ list and the prizes for being on that list for 3 months…but I would say that the #1 way to make sure that your corporate vision is achieved is by making sure that both in-the-moment quick coaching happens all the time, as well as more serious, private conversations about things that need to change.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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