Fareway CEO Reynolds Cramer Addresses Full House at First Women in the Industry Group Meeting of 2016


Fareway CEO Reynolds Cramer Addresses Full House at First Women in the Industry Group Meeting of 2016

The IGIA Women in the Industry group held its first meeting of 2016 at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Iowa Grocery Industry Association office in Urbandale, Iowa. More than 30 women filled the boardroom to listen to guest presenter Fareway CEO Reynolds Cramer.

During his presentation, “Looking for Talent: Today’s Expectations from Both Sides of the Interview Table,” Cramer entertained and enlightened as he shared his insights into what he looks for when hiring talented individuals to work for Fareway.

The group also held a donation drive for Youth Emergency Services & Shelter (YESS), collecting more than 150 personal hygiene items and $200 in cash donations.

Tips Cramer Shared:

  • Men and women often perceive the same situation differently so it’s important to seek out multiple perspectives when making decisions.
  • Seek always to fill a position based upon talent, not whether someone is male or female.
  • Be aware of any personal biases “baggage” you may have based on passed relationships and don’t let those interfere with your decision-making.
  • Bring new ideas to your company by continually seeking new talent. “It’s easy to operate within our own little bubble, but it’s important to reach out to others and make sure we are gathering different opinions and the best ideas,” he said.
  • Try a team approach. When developing new retail concepts include women and men from all levels within your company to get people to operate outside their comfort zones and achieve true innovation.
  • Work on your personal communications skills and seek to add good communicators to your company. “In an interview, I’m trying to find the person who asks questions and knows the right time to interject a great idea.”
  • Search for the right fit for the company and the individual.
  • Be as supportive as possible to both men and women when it comes to family. At the end of the day, you have a stronger workforce when you help employees find a good life-work balance. “We can’t afford to lose good people because they feel like they are struggling to do justice to their families and their work.”
  • Support professional development and self-improvement. Fareway has added leadership seminars and classes specifically to benefit women.

Cramer’s Tips for Inspiring Open Communication and Helping Employees Advance

To help employees advance within the company and improve their communication, Cramer employs several methods.

  • Create Opportunities for Open Communication — Cramer uses a poker chip to engage employees in frank discussion. “The poker chip creates a safe zone,” he said. “When I flip someone a chip, it means I’m going to listen to what an employee has to say and not judge her for it, whether I like what she has to say or not.”
  • Address Problems Before The Get Out of Hand — Jenny, a stuffed elephant that Cramer keeps in his office, encourages open communication. Jen the elephant is used to call out a problem that no one wants to talk about, the proverbial “elephant in the room.”
  • Seek Others’ Input About Your Performance — to identify areas for improvement, Cramer uses the Triple Two form to gather frank input on his performance and identify problems. Completed anonymously, the form asks employees to list for Cramer two things he does well, two things he needs to improve on and two things he should stop doing. This would be a great tool for anyone at any level to gather honest feedback on her performance.
  • Know Where You Want to Go — “We are working hard to sit down with our employees, male and female, and ask them about their goals. We need to know where they want to go and find ways to help them get there,” Cramer said. “We are making a deliberate effort to encourage women to go into leadership.”

Cramer wrapped up his presentation saying that when his grandfather started the company 77 years ago, he never would have dreamed that, one day, Fareway would be in five states, with 117 stores and 10,000 employees.

“Women have been an important part of this growth,” he said. “And, their role in our company will continue to grow as we move forward.”