At just 26, Jamie was featured in the New York Times for her work managing a team at award-winning workplace Tasty Catering. In the four years since, she has founded two successful companies and played a crucial role in shaping culture at Tasty Catering. We found out what shaped her fresh approach to talent management and company culture
Where were you when you finished college? Did you think you’d be where you are now?
Upon finishing college I was a general manager in the salon and spa industry. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the employees and the customers, but did not enjoy the large corporate structure and rules. I knew after working there that I wanted to make the move to the small business realm, so I sought to find a small business where I could learn more about business and hopefully become an entrepreneur myself someday. I was lucky enough to find Tasty Catering and started out as Director of Logistics, where I was responsible for all of the scheduling and hiring of our logistics and operations staff. The company was growing rapidly, which meant there was opportunity to advance and to make a difference. Never in a million years did I think that I would learn as much as I have or that I would end up having partnership in two companies, nuphoriq and That’s Caring. Tasty Catering supported the start-up of both companies with capital, staff, space and, most importantly, with the mentorship of seasoned entrepreneurs.
What’s some professional criticism you’ve received?
Being “too soft.” When you start out in your career, and especially when you start in a new company, you’re naturally a people-pleaser that wants to be well-liked. However, when you are in a management or leadership role, you need to be able to mentor and coach your staff. While you should certainly praise people for a job well done, you also have to coach them through situations where there was a mistake. It was very nerve-wracking being new on the block and telling people they did something wrong. However, if you don’t take action when an issue arises, you are not only doing a disservice to that specific employee, but you are losing the respect of others on the team whom may have been effected by the mistake.
You carry quite a few titles across Tasty Catering companies, including director of communications, entrepreneur and CEO, but you’re also involved in HR functions like culture and hiring. If you could create your own title that accurately portrayed what you do, what would it be?
The most all-encompassing title that I can think of is Chief Communications Officer. Being able to communicate effectively and efficiently is important to every single title and role that I have. It’s needed to teach culture, to hire and work with new employees, and it’s important for current employees to always know what is happening in the organization and where it’s headed. Communications is important externally to communicate to clients and prospects, especially who we are, what we do and how we can help them.
If it were up to you, what’s one HR practice that you would eliminate from every company and why?
Yearly reviews or waiting a specific amount of time to review an employee. Employees should be receiving feedback on a daily or weekly basis. Waiting six months to a year to tell someone they did a good job isn’t exactly reinforcing positive behavior, nor is it nipping undesirable behavior before it gets out of control.
Describe your personal brand.
Hard-working, loyal, enthusiastic, imaginative and caring. My friends, family, co-workers and the companies I have co-founded mean the world to me. My personal and professional brands often blend together and it boils down to thoroughly enjoying helping others and making them happy.
Pet peeve in the workplace?
Not taking ownership or responsibility. All employees make decisions on a daily basis and are empowered to do so. We would rather they make a decision, be it right or wrong, then have indecision and situations in which nothing happens. With that said, mistakes are going to happen, and we know this because we are all human. The great thing about having a strong company culture in place is that when these mistakes happen we are able to confront the brutal facts and take ownership of the mistakes so that we can learn from them. In our company, we attack the processes that surround the mistake instead of the person, which means we can ensure that this issue will not arise again. With this type of system, called “autopsy without blame,” as Jim Collins likes to say, in his book Good to Great, we have employees speaking up when a mistake is made instead of trying to cover it up.
Last book you read?
Recently re-read, It’s My Company Too! As we start the new year, I wanted to review the best practices of award-winning companies throughout the US. Reading the Tasty chapter helps act as a refresher of our culture and our Good to Great journey, which helps when I co-teach our culture to new hires with Tom Walter.