Thinking outside the bun (and the punchlist).

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Pop quiz!


Since we know you didn’t study, we’ll keep it brief. Only two questions, graded on the curve.


Ok, ok, ok… Yes. One of them can be multiple choice.




Name the 3 brands that make up YUM! Brands.




How many employees does YUM! Brands have?


a. 188,000

b. 329,000

c. 466,000

d. 732,000

e. 1,000,000



How’d you do?




YUM! Brands consists of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut.




YUM! Brands employs 466,000 employees around the world.




Can you imagine being CEO of that behemoth?

Talk about a challenging job.




High turnover.

Fast food every day.

Food safety nightmares.

Lawsuits over hot coffee.



How would you even begin to motivate, reward, and recognize in this environment?



David Novak, Chairman, President and CEO of YUM! Brands has a suggestion. As you might imagine, he visits lots of fast food joints. Mindful of his feedback for low wage, but incredibly important front line employees, Novak has two standard phrases he uses.






“This is great work.”




“I know you can do better.”




That’s it.

Rather brilliant in its simplicity.



Both phrases make the employees feel important.

Both affirm his belief in their capabilities.



In construction we’d be wise to use this Either/Or also.


Start using these phrases more and your life will get easier. For Spanish-speakers and English-speakers alike, people will be more likely to help if you recognize and appreciate.


As we discussed yesterday, appreciation and recognition are often abandoned in the face of language barriers. So to help you with that, here’s your content for next week’s pop quiz.


To ease our way into this, let’s focus first on the positive reinforcement.



“This is great work.”


To achieve the same effect with less thinking required, I’d recommend simply saying this:



Excelente, gracias. 

(ayk-say-LAYN-tay  GRAH-syahs)

Excellent, thank you. 



Excelente is an obvious Spanish Twin and you already know Gracias.





We’ll cover “I know you can do better” down the line, but take a moment tomorrow to recognize the effort of your front lines employees.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a  training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry. He similblogs these posts at Professional Builder’s Housing Zone.



Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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1 reply


  1. Libro 4/52 :: The Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak « redanglespanish

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