The importance of spending time in the “field.” As managers, we tend to spend most of our time in meetings or our office. Yet, by spending more time in individual departments, you will have more opportunities for interaction with employees and feel more connected with the team and your company. And you’ll be surprised by the insights you’ll gain from spending more time in the field.
As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joseph Giranda.
Joseph is the Director of Commercial Relations for CFR Rinkens, a global leader in commercial cargo shipping, specializing in the containerized shipping of motor vehicles.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I started with cars when I was 17 years old, washing cars and cleaning the lot on a car dealership. Then I started selling cars for the same dealer, and then I became sales manager. I ended up leaving that dealership and opened my own lot. I did that for two years, working 12 hours per day, 364 days each year, only taking Christmas Day off. The owner of CFR Rinkens was chasing me for years to come over and work for him, and after the birth of my first child, I decided to leave the dealership and start something new. That was 20 years ago.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I had a customer for years that I used to ship items to France for. I never dealt with him but rather his mother-in-law, so I never made the connection as to who he was. Then one day, his mother-in-law told me he was in town and wanted to meet me, so she asked where she could send the tickets. I said “tickets”? It turned out that he is the lead guitarist for an extremely popular worldwide band, and my wife and I enjoyed a night backstage meeting him and the band. It was quite an amazing night.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
On my first day, I sat at my new desk, and my phone rang. I looked at our owner sitting right next to me, and he gestured for me to answer it. The caller said he wanted to make a booking, so I put him on hold and told the owner what he said, and he replied to me, “well, that’s what we do.” It was a painful call that consisted of me getting a couple of questions and putting the customer on hold to get the answers. Training by fire…I remember going to lunch that day and calling my wife and telling her I could not do this; maybe I made a mistake. I am happy to say I was wrong 🙂
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?
I’ve found that the best way to retain great talent is to create an environment that fosters engagement with the company. As a manager, you play a crucial role in whether an employee feels engaged or disengaged. An effective manager encourages open communication and demonstrates trust and respect toward their employees. It’s also important to collaborate with team members to set clear goals, provide supportive feedback, and recognize employees for their achievements.
How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?
We synchronize large teams by assigning team leaders that are task-oriented and supportive. They can clarify responsibilities and expectations so that each team member understands their role. We meet in person and use Slack to allow regular contact with team members through dedicated channels when possible. Our team also uses Flow, a project management tool that integrates with Slack. It helps us to organize our workflow, task notes, assignments, and our project timeline. We also use Hiver, a shared email solution that allows group visibility, assignment, and more to have the team on the same page and ensure that clients are taken care of faster and more efficiently.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)
- How to problem solve and think creatively. These skills are a must to manage a team successfully. For example, our company provides international shipping for any cargo from classic cars to commercial freight. And even amid COVID-19, we have continued to receive, load, and ship our clients’ vehicles in all major ports around the United States. I believe a large part of our success is due to the ability of our skilled managers and team members to find accurate, workable solutions to shipping requests. This includes resolving problems concerning logistics systems, imports and exports, and transportation issues.
- Openness to change. It can feel uncomfortable to think about taking on changes that will impact your company and your team. Yet, it’s important to place effort in taking on innovative ways to improve and enhance results. For instance, CFR recently purchased five electric semi-trucks and is at the forefront of this shift in the industry. We believe that all sectors should try to be as environmentally conscious as possible, especially the shipping/freight/trucking industry, which accounts for a large amount of air pollution worldwide. Having shipping companies utilize electric trucks is a step in the right direction. And self-driving or partially self-driving trucks may be the logical next step in that direction. While some companies are hesitant to incorporate self-driving trucks, I believe they will help us address the growing demand for faster shipping and offer substantial operational benefits for our company. We couldn’t achieve this without the openness to change demonstrated by our management team.
- Be consistent. Managers must be consistent in their management techniques and style to effectively manage a team. When people know how you’ll respond and what to expect from you, it increases engagement and reduces workplace stress. For instance, effective managers follow through with commitments, treat everyone equally, and consistently enforce workplace rules.
- How to handle emotions among team members. Like all companies, we have been through our share of ups and downs. And over the past year and a half during COVID-19, there have been some challenging times. However, we know that organizations whose employees feel comfortable expressing their feelings are more productive and creative. I have found that by acknowledging feelings and actively listening, you can positively impact your team. We also try to incorporate tactics to manage stress, such as sticking with schedules and deadlines, setting clear expectations, and making sure employees take regular breaks.
- The importance of spending time in the “field.” As managers, we tend to spend most of our time in meetings or our office. Yet, by spending more time in individual departments, you will have more opportunities for interaction with employees and feel more connected with the team and your company. And you’ll be surprised by the insights you’ll gain from spending more time in the field. For instance, when spending more time with customer service reps, we learned about several shipping tips that we can make customers aware of ahead of time. This has made the process of shipping cars smoother for both the company and the customer. For instance, vehicles with leaks are considered a hazard and cannot be shipped, so the customer needs to take care of any leaks before shipping.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I would advise them to promote the company’s purpose to help their employees thrive. Your company’s purpose can serve as a guidepost to remind employees why they do what they do daily. Employees typically don’t just work and stay at a company for the salary. They work because they want to contribute to a mission that matters.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Business is all about relationships. How well you build them determines how well you build your business.” — Brad Sugars
An important aspect of my position is developing and maintaining relationships with agents globally. Building these relationships is an intentional, ongoing process to maintain excellent communication that ultimately benefits our clients.
Thank you for these great insights!