“I’m not empathetic,” Simon Rainville laughs. “I don’t know how we can spin this … People nominated me because I say what I think, so if I say I’m empathetic, it won’t work.” That is Simon in a nutshell — an honest, straight-shooting man of his word. An expert communicator, Simon excels at giving and taking constructive feedback and listening carefully to everyone’s opinions before making major decisions. He says that what he likes best about his work is the relationships with suppliers, retailer and colleagues. “As a team, we can all improve by helping each other,” said Simon. “I have a lot of things to learn from my colleagues, and I hope they can help me, and in that sense I am ready to help them.” “My Sobeys is a big company that celebrates teamwork in a family atmosphere,” said Simon. “We feel like a family because we have so many activities outside of work, someone is always organizing a barbecue or fun activity, it helps us grow together as a team.”
Pour Michael Short, la fonction de pharmacien ne se résume pas à travailler derrière un comptoir. En 2017, il a proposé un partenariat entre Sobeys et la section d’Ottawa d’Ambulance Saint-Jean afin de mettre sur pied un programme pour enrayer la crise des opioïdes au Canada. « Michael est l’artisan de l’établissement et du maintien de ce partenariat solide », a écrit son gestionnaire. Sans son initiative, son implication et son ardeur, le programme n’en serait pas là où il est aujourd’hui. Chaque mois, Michael assiste au cours de premiers soins en santé mentale organisé par l’organisme de bienfaisance, où il forme les bénévoles sur la consommation de substances opioïdes, sur la façon de reconnaître les signes de surdose et sur les moyens d’intervention à l’aide d’une trousse d’urgence. À l’heure actuelle, la crise des opioïdes a conduit à plus de 10 000 décès au Canada sur une période de 30 mois, ce qui entraîne des répercussions à tous les échelons socioéconomiques dans les régions rurales et urbaines. « Je crois qu’il est essentiel pour nous d’établir des liens avec nos clients en faisant preuve d’humilité et d’humanité », souligne Michael.
Lorsqu’il a commencé à travailler comme commis à l’épicerie, Chris était encore à l’école secondaire et n’avait pas l’intention de rester chez Sobeys pour le reste de sa carrière, mais au fil du temps, il est devenu « un des membres d’une équipe formidable ». Bon joueur d’équipe, Chris a accepté sans hésiter d’assumer davantage de responsabilités lorsqu’un collègue a vécu une situation familiale d’urgence. Il a même demandé à sa tante de préparer un gâteau aux pommes selon une recette hongroise et roumaine pour son collègue lorsqu’il a su qu’ils avaient des origines semblables. Reconnu comme une personne fiable, facile d’approche et authentique, Chris est toujours heureux de partager ses vastes connaissances en matière d’exploitation de magasins. « J’essaie toujours de bien comprendre mes collègues et de transmettre un message aussi clair que possible afin que les gens puissent l’intégrer et réussir, affirme Chris. Je traite les autres comme je voudrais être traité moi-même. »
« Tous les gestionnaires ne sont pas des leaders et tous les leaders ne sont pas des gestionnaires, mais Chris incarne les deux avec brio, écrit son directeur dans sa lettre de mise en candidature. Il est conscient que le succès du magasin dépend de l’engagement des membres de l’équipe. »
Jordan Richard, a self-professed sports guy, believes in leading by example, especially in retail. “I believe the manager should be the hardest worker,” he explained, adding that he doesn’t like to micromanage. “I’m a trainer and developer. I put trust in people to get things done with quality.” His former boss of six years agrees. A week after Jordan was transferred to a new store, he heard that his old bakery department was struggling to keep up, so he went in to help on his day off. His boss and award nominator only found out the next day that Jordan had spent hours whipping the store into shape. He added that Jordan often baked bread in his store on Saturday nights to help his team. “This is really just his nature … in 24 years with Sobeys, I have met some great people who truly care, but have never seen anyone step up in this manner. I can tell you that Jordan inspires me,” he said.
Sometimes change can be difficult for employees. As Lead Master Trainer, Susan Young taught gas bar operators to use the new system that was implemented when Sobeys bought Safeway. This work was soon followed by another round of training when an agreement between Safeway and Shell was inked. “I learned the new system in Calgary and it became routine,” said Susan. “To sell it to the gas bars, I explained it in the best possible light, focusing on the positives.” It was a busy time in the region, with Susan juggling her duties at the gas bar while training more trainers who could implement the new system, and also doing training herself in stores. “They could relate to me because I’m a gas bar operator too,” said Susan. “Susan’s background in training and managing employees made her an ideal candidate to take on the challenging role of learning and teaching a completely new system,” wrote her manager. “Susan knows her stuff and she shares her time and talents willingly.”
As a manager, Sara Yule is the type of boss who inspires loyalty from her employees. She treats other people as well as she wants to be treated. “Always be warm and welcoming, keep confidential information private, and everybody has to be trained well; if it’s not done right it’s on me,” she said. When training employees, she’ll either give them the answer to a question, or ideally ask what they think and let them give her an answer. “I want to empower them to do their best without a lot of direction from me,” she said. “I give them the tools, they just have to use them.” After 32 years with Sobeys, Sara is still proud when former employees come back to thank her for their training. “Take those values with you wherever you go,” she said of her former colleagues. “Sara is amazing at her job,” wrote one employee. “She allowed me to grow as a person, gain confidence, and feel welcomed and comfortable in my workplace.”
If you’re planning to have a wedding or party in Brandon, Manitoba, you want to talk to Pat Vreeman about flowers. For 30 years she has been the go-to florist for people in the know, thanks solely to word of mouth. “In the last year Pat has arranged flowers for 50 weddings, and is on pace to exceed that,” wrote her manager. “She will take any custom floral order on with a passion that exceeds the customer’s expectations and challenges her to explore the latest trends and innovations in floral design.” Helping customers inspires Pat to do her best work, especially as she often meets people in emotional situations. “I have the privilege of being part of peoples’ lives for their greatest joys and sorrows,” she said. For Pat, Sobeys is a place where customers can expect quality, fairness and integrity, and it’s a place where she can learn and grow in her career. “Sobeys is where I can be proud of what I do.”
With 40 years experience in 25 stores, Murray Westover knows how to bring a team of employees together. “Treat employees fairly and consistently. Be calm and professional, be a realist. Most important: build respect so that they’ll support you; they tend to follow you that way,” he said, adding that he tells new employees to be themselves, and bring any small issues to your manager. “Small things add up to big things, so I like to have that rapport and have that communication line open,” he said. Recently Murray renovated the coffee room at his busy Edmonton store, turning it into a welcoming space where employees like to gather. The team has bonded over ice cream bars, pizza and BBQs. They have reason to be proud of their store, having recently won an award in their district for the best back room, thanks to painting, repairs, and reorganizing it to be more efficient. “It affected morale in the store, and we’re very proud of that.”
The enthusiasm that Jillian White has for her job is inspiring. She joined Sobeys 23 years ago as a part-time cashier who knew very little about the company, and worked in business before joining the national IT team. She is now a big fan of Sobeys, praising the family atmosphere, the drive to give back to communities, and the quality and freshness of the products. “I love my job, I truly enjoy it,” said Jillian. “I enjoy the people, I love the camaraderie with my colleagues, and I shop our stores for my family; it truly is a family nurturing families” “As a team member she enthusiastically participates in meetings, sharing her expertise and offering feedback and encouragement, suggests ideas for continuous improvement, and follows up to address action items,” wrote her colleague in a nomination letter. “It is inspiring to witness the energy she has exhibited at all hours of the day and her dedication to not only delivering on her initiatives, but delivering exceptionally well.”
For Krystle Whiteley, being able to give back to her community is the best part of her role as a store operator. Along with supporting the food bank, she volunteers with elderly residents at a nursing home, providing Christmas gifts and games, puzzles and books. She says her mother is her biggest influence. “She has always been strong, independent, hard working and selfless,” said Krystle. “She has always been my biggest fan and the one who pushes me to keep growing.” Along with community volunteer work and volunteering with her son’s hockey team, Krystle has found a way to help others at her store in Dryden, Ont. She partnered with the local high school to help bring special needs employees into the workforce. “She provides friendly, courteous and helpful customer service on a daily basis to all, both when she is at work and when she is on personal time,” states her nomination letter. “She is a great ambassador for our company in Dryden.”