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  • Writer's pictureSETH MCCOLLEY

Fight On!

Have you ever worked with someone who knows their business cold, consistently achieves great results and has so much passion about their work that they're almost contagious? I have. Meet Jerry Moody. Jerry is a Region Coach for Pizza Hut and he was one of nine Region Coaches (think Director of Operations/Sales) that I had the pleasure of working with when I was a Field HR guy at Pizza Hut. Our paths met in Phoenix, when he replaced the Region Coach I had been partnering with for almost a year.

When Jerry arrived in Phoenix, he had already been a Region Coach in San Diego, D.C. and Los Angeles, so he was a seasoned, well-traveled and highly successful operator who's moves had been triggered by company-owned markets being sold to franchisees as Pizza Hut continued to move more towards a franchisor organization. We had spent some time together at various meetings and events, but we had never really worked together and at that point our conversations were centered mostly around college football, Jerry being a die-hard USC Trojans fan and me being a crazy Texas Longhorn fan. (It should be noted that Texas had just recently beat USC for the National Championship. You know the game. The one in which Vince Young put on a clinic at the Rose Bowl. But I digress...)

I'll never forget our first day working together. Jerry and I had been at the office all day in meetings and I had facilitated an assimilation exercise with his new team. After the meeting, he and I agreed to work for another hour or so and grab some dinner. As we were packing up our stuff to leave, he suggested we hit a few restaurants (Pizza Hut) before dinner and do some unannounced/blind visits. Huh?! We had just wrapped up a long day of work, I was spent and this guy wanted to go visit stores! That's when I learned then and there - Jerry's motor doesn't stop running.

I worked with Jerry for about a year, as we partnered together to drive the people/talent agenda in the Phoenix region. At the end of 2008, Jerry and I sat down and created the 2009 People Power Plan (we don't rebuild, we reload!) for the Phoenix Region. Let me repeat - we created the plan. Unlike some business leaders who are content with HR driving the people/talent agenda, Jerry was all in and enjoyed getting his hands dirty. When we had bench meetings each month, he was keeping track of the results of each Area Coach (think Regional Sales Manager) and their performance against our people plan. He was bought in and helping to drive it. To take it a step further, we took a group of Hi Po managers (we called them the A-Team) and carved out dedicated time each month to focus on their development. Jerry would provide book summaries, lead group discussions, lead market visits with the A-Team and create project teams to work on relevant operational issues in the market. He was fully committed to their growth and development. Again, this wasn't something I was driving or prodding him to do. That's just how Jerry is wired up. Jerry is just a natural people developer.

When Pizza Hut launched a new wellness initiative and Phoenix was selected to be one of the pilot markets, guess who stepped up to lead the charge, take on the role of spokesperson, role model the behavior and motivate the troops - you guessed it, Jerry. Jerry is the consummate cheerleader and was an inspiration to the Phoenix Region and all of Pizza Hut. He was featured in one of the videos we created to promote the program and loved every minute of it. Some leaders will take on these roles begrudgingly because they have to or they are coerced, but Jerry truly embraces it and has a way of getting those around him fired up.

As many of you know, Pizza Hut and the Yum! Brands organization has an incredibly rich culture of recognition (seeCustomer Mania). Every employee is encouraged to create their own personal recognition award. Jerry's award for several years was the "Fight On! Five Star Award", a plaque he created that included a personalized note for each recipient. I still remember getting that award (see below). What an honor! I don't have many of the recognition awards from my days at Pizza Hut (since I left last summer), but this one I kept.

Since the Phoenix Region was sold, Jerry has since moved to East Pennsylvania, where he supports that market along with the operations that Pizza Hut acquired in West Virginia. He has relocated four times now with Pizza Hut and he has achieved great results in every market that he leads. It seems that every time I check in with him, his team has just broken some sales record and hit some new milestone. Clearly he casts a very long leadership shadow. are my questions and my challenge for you.

Do you have a Jerry in your organization?  If so, what are you doing to keep them motivated and challenged? What can they be doing to inspire, coach and develop others?
Do your leaders have the skill and/or will to develop the Hi Po talent around them? How much time are they investing in emerging leaders?
If you've got a Jerry, actively seek out ways to get them involved in developing the talent in your organization. Allow them to get creative. We started with a one-page slide deck that had the major bullets that we were going to focus on from a people perspective. That morphed into the A-Team, project teams, book summaries, including Hi Pos in field visits., etc.

Here endeth the lesson.

PS - Jerry, if you're reading this, I'll see you in Austin on September 15, 2018 when Texas hosts the Trojans and we beat you. Again. Hook 'em!

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