How Gary Fazio keeps everyone focused on their goals at Mattress Firm Inc. - Page 2

Be clear

Fazio says he sometimes likes to use a sense of humor to get his point across. He’s able to joke that it might only be his view of a sense of humor, but nonetheless, it adds some levity to a situation.

For example, Fazio will ask an employee if he or she can take care of a task for him. When the employee agrees, he waits a minute for that person to get back to his or her office. When he or she gets back to their chair, the phone rings, and it’s Fazio asking if the person is done with the task yet.

“It’s a sense of humor, but I am also sending a clear (message) that I have a sense of urgency,” he says.
Fazio doesn’t care if his leadership style makes someone uncomfortable. That’s how he leads, and he will be clear about the fact that he wants to see results.

“If someone is going to work with me, we’re going to have a discussion about what that is going to be like,” he says. “It’s an expectation that you have to have. If it’s not what you feel comfortable with, well then, we probably shouldn’t work together.”

Through that clarity, Fazio shows that he is pressing to get results, and those around him should be doing the same.
“You’ve got to set the pace,” he says. “Respond to e-mails faster than anybody else. Answer questions very clearly and quickly and leave no one without clarity on what I think about things. It doesn’t mean I’m always right either, by the way. I just want to make sure I am clear though. If I’m wrong, I try to follow up on that, too.”

Because Fazio is a goal-oriented leader, he has be clear on what the goal is that the team is trying to achieve.

“You really need to make sure that the people that are around you are directly communicated (to) and understanding of the expectations of the company,” he says. “Through that, you really are setting a very high standard. Your personal standards have to be impeccable. It doesn’t mean you are always going to be perfect or right or any of those things.

“But, you realize whatever it is that you are doing is a reflection of the standard that you are willing to accept and people will gravitate to that standard that you set. They rarely go above it. They’re only going to go as high as you set it. So, your expectations have to be clear and you have to set a really high standard.”

Simply saying that you want something done won’t be any help to that person you are directing. Fazio doesn’t leave a room until everyone in there understands what he is thinking.

“There’s no doubt when I leave a room, or they leave a room, that we may not be on the same page, but they know where I stand and I hopefully understand where they stand,” he says.

While he sets clear expectations, Fazio also wants to listen to what people are telling him, so he can understand them, and respond clearly and concisely.

“You really give people their due,” he says. “Ask a lot of questions, be very direct and accept absolutely nothing less than what you want and what you expect. It’s when you begin to compromise what it is that your standard is, (that’s) when problems occur because you eventually realize later that you should have not compromised. Then you end up with putting blame and there is all kinds of noise in that.

“So, the advice is that you keep going at it. You just keep asking questions, being very direct and being very open with that person. Direct doesn’t mean you have to be harsh. Direct means you are being very open about what you are feeling and what you are thinking.”