CEO lesson: In the warehouse, in the executive suite, attitude matters

Attitude is everything, says Todd Bloom, chief executive of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc. And the key to a good attitude at work, he told me in our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer, is each employee's firm belief that his work makes a difference in the company.

"I interview every single person who works for this company and after they are hired I sit with them" to make sure they understand the value of their work, Bloom said. That's the same procedure, he said, for his direct reports and for the folks who work in the parts warehouse attached to the U.S. headquarters in Logan Township, Gloucester County.

Todd Bloom

"Suppose you have a guy who works in the warehouse and a a slip comes across that board at 4:30 in the afternoon when he is supposed to leave at 5," Bloom said, referring to a late order for a truck part. "There’s a truck in Peoria, Ill that went down and the dealer doesn’t have simple piece to fix that truck.

"That guy out in that warehouse has a moment to decide – is he going to look in the other direction and not see the piece of paper that’s sitting there? It doesn’t matter if he gets it out until the next day. We don’t guarantee that something ships if it comes in at 4:30. And for him to go find this part and get it packaged and get it labeled and get it into the system and ready to be picked up by UPS may be too much of a hassle."

But, Bloom said he tells the workers, "Imagine the impact that you’ve had, when the next day, at 8 a.m. in the morning, that part arrived, the dealer puts it on that truck and the truck is on the road again. You saved that customer thousands and thousands of dollars by doing that little bit for the customer. 

"The profitability of this company -- and we have a profit-sharing program -- depends on your passion and your belief and your commitment that you do make a difference. And, if at any point, you think, you don’t make a difference in this company, come talk to us.

"There are times at which we may ask people to do things that are not meaningful to them in this company and that’s where, at some point, this door is open, for someone to come in and say, `Why are we doing this?' or `Why are we doing this in this particular way?' 

"It’s not, `Don’t question my authority.' If you are standing out there and we are packaging a part in some way that makes no sense at all, come to me, or tell your boss. And if your boss isn’t listening, and you want to walk in my office and say something, [you can]."  If my phone rings, I  pick it up. I can deal with that situation, instantly, if a customer has a problem, or someone has an idea, please share it."

Going back to the warehouse worker, Bloom said that if the worker takes the opposite approach and ignores the order, it has repercussions that go beyond the missing part for the the Peoria dealer. "It is devastating to an organization because if you take that same worker and the guy next to him and sees the slip was there and no one seems to care," the other worker gets an impression of the entire workplace. "He says, `he doesn't have my back and I don't have his back.'"

Click here to read Monday's blog post on Todd Bloom.