Jim Donald speaks at Bellingham Business Forum

Motivating and rewarding employees on the front line is especially important during tough economic times, Donald said to a sold-out...

By Isaac Bonnell

Jim Donald, president and CEO of Haggen, headlined the 10th Annual Bellingham Business Forum Nov. 17 at the Bellwether Hotel ballroom.

He spoke about how businesses can stay ahead during a sluggish economy.

“In these tough economic times, you have to take one step back and three steps forward,” he said.

He offered these three steps: 1) communicate your story well and make it stick, otherwise people will forget; 2) you are no more important than the people on the front line; and 3) motivate the people who make the numbers dance.

“Your job as a leader, your job as a teacher or head of a department is not to make the numbers dance — the leader of Enron made the numbers dance,” Donald joked with the crowd. “It’s your job to make the people dance who make the numbers dance.”

Motivating and rewarding employees on the front line of a business is especially important in this economy, where there is fierce competition among retailers, Donald said in an interview after his keynote speech.

“I think 2011 will remain tough for retailers,” he added.

Donald, who has a total of 34 years of experience in the grocery industry, joined Haggen in 2009. Before Haggen, he worked at Starbucks Coffee Co. as president, North America.

The Bellingham Business Forum is an annual opportunity for business and civic leaders to connect with friends of the university and support student scholarships.

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