Effective Perspectives: Glen Keysaw on How Sharing Sparks Growth

In our recent in-person team meetings, David Rice talked about perspective. He shared an analogy about a chair and how, based on our viewpoint, we each see a chair differently. He encouraged us to “walk around the whole chair” and to get others’ thoughts so we can see the whole picture. Dave’s analogy got me thinking about our culture and how we innovate and grow. Our individual perspectives allow us to leave our unique mark on AFS, which is important. Of equal importance is to leverage our combined knowledge to drive both personal and collective growth. 

Here are two examples that help me remember this valuable principle:  

I started working at AFS in 1992 loading trucks in the warehouse. One day, as I was loading, a senior driver approached me and asked, “Do you realize how far this product has to go?” He had seen that, in my hurry, I had stacked product that would get damaged on the way to the store. He pointed out the opportunity for improvement and taught me about the many people and processes my actions would impact if product were damaged. While I should have known better, this perspective opened my eyes. In my haste to get my job done, it never crossed my mind how we would be affected. This driver shared his perspective and I grew in the process. 

A few years back we started testing a new technology in our tractors – automated transmissions. This was a passionate subject for our driving team. As a couple drivers started sharing their experience with the test tractors, we heard comments like, “I feel like I could drive a few more hours” and “Traffic is much easier to deal with in the new vehicles.” Based on the perspective of those who tested the tractors, many team members became open to the change. As the team worked together and shared their experiences, we quickly learned the pros and cons and made the decision to move toward automated transmissions for our tractors. It wasn’t easy, and some drivers would still prefer manual transmissions, but we learned and grew together to make the best decision for AFS as a whole. 

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many great team members in diverse areas of the company. I credit many of them for investing in me and providing their knowledge and perspective. Their insights helped me grow and allowed me to continue improving. During this time, we had many challenges. Walmart and other big-box stores came to town. We have seen huge changes in consumer demand, leading to increased SKU counts and entirely new product categories.  

The challenges haven’t stopped. We are working through a pandemic that continues to put a strain on most areas of our system. We have supply and labor challenges. However, we have done an incredible job adjusting to serve our customers both internal and external.  

In the whirlwind, it can become harder to make investments in those around us. Our opportunity is to realize we all need different perspectives from time to time and those around us need our perspective. Maybe that person who created extra work for you just didn’t know any better? Maybe they were simply trying to do their job to the best of their ability and need a little help understanding your perspective? No matter our level in the company, or stage in our careers, we each have an important perspective to share.  

When I think of ‘One Associated,’ I think of the many shared investments we make in each other’s success. If we continue looking for opportunities to understand and share perspectives, we will meet our future challenges and continue our impressive growth!