At 123JUNK, our leadership team is committed to helping our employees grow to their full potential. We started our own “university,” JUNK-U, first as a book club for all staff. We then expanded it to include a new professional development program focused on the growth of our fleet team. We’re very excited to continue to explore how to best serve our junk removal team members by adding courses and creating advancement opportunities for our employees. Below, we discuss JUNK-U with our very own Chief Operating Officer, Mallard “Mal” Owen, Ph.D.
- How did the Professional Development Program at 123JUNK start?
I have a real passion for staff development and building the right kind of culture. We took five of our truck leads and asked if they were interested in spending 90 minutes on a Sunday night for 12 weeks to work on becoming a better employee and leader. We called it Professional Growth 101. We’re hoping that the time they’re investing is going to be helpful for their careers, whether they stay with 123JUNK or not.
- What’s your role in the program?
I’m functioning as our first trainer, facilitator, coach, and mentor for JUNK-U. From my sports coaching, university teaching, and certified executive coaching experiences, I believe I’ve developed strong skills in the realm of performance management and leadership development. Helping others become great coaches of their direct reports is one of the most impactful ways I can help our company build a great culture with great managers. I am so excited to work together with these guys – and see them get excited as they make changes in their behaviors and see their performance improve. You can feel their excitement as they focus on things beyond ‘how well can I carry a couch down from the second floor and get it into the truck.’
There’s only so much technical skill they can develop. Collin and I are committed to creating a positive, proactive learning environment where team members understand what success looks like as a top performer within our company.
- Can you give an example of how employees grow throughout the program?
After a session where we discussed the importance of “building connections” to being a trusted employee/leader, one of our “students” took the initiative to discover YouTube videos dealing with the topic. He was amazed at one person he found who was very skilled in connecting with the people he interviewed. He was so taken by this person’s ability to connect with others that he viewed many of his videos and then tried to engage his colleague in the same way.
As he was working on the trucks, instead of listening to music and bopping along to it, he chose to engage with his coworker through conversation—trying to build a better connection. In our next session, he was literally glowing with excitement as he shared his success in how much better he felt working with his coworker. It was a wonderful experience to introduce him to something that would create his own path for self-growth.
- What do you see as the long-term goals for the program?
With all that we are working on at 123JUNK, I think my first focus has been to just get this program started. Seeing the reaction to the program so far, I know we are on the right path with JUNK-U. I’m already envisioning an advanced course for some and also imagining how we might include onboarding courses for new 123JUNK employees. The number and variety of courses will be driven by how quickly we grow and how we can best attract and retain the best talent. I certainly can’t be the only facilitator for what I envision, so it will be interesting to see how we leverage other resources to meet the development needs of our staff.
People need to have a deeper and richer understanding of the role they play in the workplace and the role they play in their own development. While our JUNK-U is just getting started, its launch speaks to our culture and vision for our company.
- What have been your takeaways from this program so far?
I hold on to the belief that employees really do want to do their best at work. We would all rather be praised for a job well done than be admonished for underperforming. Compensation is very important, but it isn’t the primary motivator for people staying with an organization. Are you growing? Are you being developed? Do you feel like your capabilities are expanding? Are you being acknowledged for your successes while being given the chance to grow from your mistakes?
That’s what people are really hungry for in the workplace. It’s like people want to be loved. What can we do to have an impact on these young people’s lives? You want to walk into your company and genuinely feel appreciated and know that your company, your supervisor, wants to help you grow and succeed. And what can we do together to support our customers and have a positive impact on their lives?
Grow with us at 123JUNK in Northern VA, MD, and Washington DC!
No matter what you are looking for, you can be sure to learn a lot at our local junk removal company. Our unique team is composed of exceptionally hardworking and enthusiastic individuals that truly enjoy growing together. Whether they are helping residents haul away their junk or participating in our professional development group, they strive to become better each and every day.