39. Be In The Gray Zone.

Not everything in life and work is black and white. Though we have policies and procedures, you often need to be in the gray zone, where guidelines and guiding principles are more important than following a rule. While making sure everything you do is ethical and legal, use your judgment and common sense when making decisions. If you’re unsure how to handle something, talk about it with a coworker or manager and collaborate to determine the best course of action.

Tim's Message:


This fundamental is one of my favorites. Imagine having to sit at your desk, visit one of our customers or work the counter by ONLY answering “Yes” or “No”. There is no other answer to any questions because of policies and procedures. Our ELT allows for each of us to use guidelines rather than Policies and Procedures. We are encouraged to work in the gray zone when we need to by using good common sense, judgement and discretion.

I believe being allowed to work in the gray zone sets Famous apart from our competition that follows a stringent set of procedures and rules. When our competition says “NO” we are allowed to enter the gray zone and provide a solution that benefits our customer and Famous. When we provide that solution, the customer is going to choose Famous first the next time, and hopefully every time. In raising 4 children, I have learned there is nobody more in the gray zone that a child trying to get their own way.

I honestly believe that there are many associates that enter into the gray zone multiple times a day to assist others (internal associates as well) and win business for Famous. One associate that comes to my mind is Dave Figuly. I have been with Dave on sales visits and he has found a way to overcome every objection presented by a contractor on why they haven’t purchased various products from Famous. There was never a policy broken or the word “NO” said, and when we left, the contractor committed to Famous for future purchases as well. Dave worked in the gray to overcome consignment, pricing, credit issues and warranty, among other things to build even more trust and win the business.

Amazon, eBay and Big Box stores all have policies that they stick to. We need to continue to think about venturing into the gray zone to gain market share in this ever changing environment that we are competing in. If we treat each customer contact as an individual and build the relationship, along with doing the right thing, we will continue to set Famous apart from the competition.