Our Staff Development
Our Staff Development
We’ve heard time and time again how wonderful our employees are, and in the past five to seven years, we’ve taken a keen interest in developing our employees to be friendly, courteous, and experts in guest care. It’s not always easy—after all, a large percentage of our employees are high-schoolers, and for many of them, this is their first “real” job. But we’re committed to “growing people,” just like we grow fun! Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how we work hard to develop our staff.
Every single morning that we are open to the public, the employees of Cherry Crest Adventure Farm come together for a brief informational and devotional meeting. This meeting usually lasts no longer than 15 minutes, and is crucial for the sharing of information. We are an ever-growing property and body of employees so this gives us a chance to all come together and get important info about the day: special events, large groups of school-aged kids, reunions or birthday parties, special discounts or sales that are happening, etc.
Just as important as the informational part of the meeting is the devotional part of the meeting. Our Entertainment and Creativity Supervisor is in charge of our morning meetings, and she has a short devotion that she shares each morning to encourage and inspire our employees each morning before they go to work. She usually has a theme or book that she is working through, and shapes her devotions to fit in as such. The theme might be as basic as techniques for handling guest complaints, or as in-depth as examining the CCAF mission statement, vision statement, and core values. In the past we’ve worked through books like The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn, The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player by John Maxwell, Customer Love: Great Stories about Great Service by Mac Anderson, Eat More Chickin, Inspire More People by S. Truett Cathy, and more. This year in particular, our ECS has decided to work through the book Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard.
Fred Factor and Second Mile Service
If you spend any amount of time getting to know our employees, you may hear them talk about “being a Fred” or “second mile service.” These are two distinct but related world views that we’ve adopted here at the farm, in order to promote a better experience for our guests. The idea of “being a Fred” comes from Mark Sanborn’s book The Fred Factor. It tells the story of Mark’s mailman, an ordinary guy named Fred who lived his life in an extraordinary way. He was kind and welcoming when Mark moved into the neighborhood, went out of his way to hold Mark’s mail while he was away on business, and even picked up the slack for other delivery services who mis-delivered a package for Mark. Fred made such an impression on Mark that he ended up writing a book about him! The Fred Factor lists four principles to help you live an extraordinary life: 1. Everyone makes a difference. 2. Success is built on relationships. 3. Continually create value for others. 4. Reinvent yourself regularly.
The concept of “second mile service” comes from the Bible, in a story Jesus told to his disciples. During the time of the Roman Empire, centurions and soldiers often had heavy bags and possessions, as well as armor and weapons that they might have been carrying around. At any time, a soldier could require a Jew to carry their possessions for one mile—it was the law! This was a “no questions asked” kind of law, and the Jew had to comply, even if it meant going in the opposite direction or leaving their own companions and possessions behind. When Jesus was preaching to his disciples and the crowd, he talks about serving others without any expectation in return. He says, “If you are asked to go one mile, offer to go the second mile without being asked.” This is the foundation on which we’ve built our guest services! We strive to go above and beyond what our guests are expecting, to provide them with an extraordinary agricultural experience. These concepts factor heavily into our vocabulary and philosophy here at the farm.
Not only is second mile service a part of our vocabulary, but it’s one of our core values. We believe in the value of serving other people! For that reason, we encourage our employees to serve others in various capacities through our Seeds for the Harvest project. Many of our employees go on missions trips or serve locally at the food bank or shelter. Some of our staff members are involved with Operation Christmas Child’s Shoebox Project. We invite our employees on an annual trip to GAiN distribution center, where we pack seeds to send to third-world countries. All of these activities help to promote an environment of service, which is ultimately what we want to achieve. We want our employees to see the value in going beyond themselves to serve and help others.
We value the time of our employees, so we do what we can to train them thoroughly and concisely before sending them out to do the task themselves. Our training checklists, handbook and “how-to” guides for each station are an integral part in training new employees. We want them to know how to do their job!
Rewards and Incentives
Of course, most people perform better when they’re recognized for the work that they do! We read daily shout-outs, where supervisors and other employees can recognize each other for the excellent work that they do. We’ve found that most people don’t do extraordinary work merely for the sake of being recognized--but it certainly can’t hurt! Supervisors also give out spontaneous “Cherry Crest bucks” when they catch an employee doing something great.
Each year we hold multiple employee events, which are a fun way to bring our employees together to engage in an activity outside of work! This provides an opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level, and builds team morale like you’ve never seen before. In the past, we’ve done things like Barnstormer’s baseball games, campfires, a talent show, movie nights on the jumping pillow (they really like that one), mini golf, an end-of-the-year banquet, and more. It’s wonderful to see our employees come together and interact outside of a working environment, where they have time to just relax and have fun!
Above all, we pray daily for our employees. We might pray specifically for someone who is sick or it might just be a general prayer of blessing and safety over the property and our employees before the day starts. But we’ve seen how powerful prayer can be, and we believe that it’s a crucial part of our operation here on the farm!
We love our employees, and truly the supervisors and owners of Cherry Crest couldn’t get through the workday without them! Cherry Crest Adventure Farm wouldn’t function if we didn’t have such wonderful staff to make food, clean floors and toilets, attend stations, pick up baseballs, help guests out of the maze, ring up sales on the register, and sell tickets. We’ve made it a point to invest in the lives of our employees—and the blessings we receive in return are manifold!