“Some have a passion for coming in and fixing,” Kim Lazerus says. “I don’t mind doing that. I can do that. I have done that. But it’s more fun to build it yourself.”
As vice president of human resources for Maverik, Lazerus has brought an unrivaled level of expertise to her position precisely because she didn’t grow up in a people function. Lazerus cut her teeth on the frontlines of retail, opening Target and Best Buy stores in the Salt Lake City region and demonstrating a keen understanding for what the people working closest to customers need from HR. In coming to Maverik, Lazerus was able to build out the HR function from the ground up and help demonstrate that good HR can truly be a driver of business results.
“I think I have a different understanding of the business having actually worked in stores and developed such an appreciation for the work that frontline employees do,” Lazerus says. “I think that’s one of the things that has helped me accelerate my career so quickly in the HR space.”
Lazerus came up through Target’s management training program and was ultimately chosen to help usher in the red and white’s introduction to the Salt Lake City area. It was Lazerus’s first taste of building an entire team from scratch. After moving to Best Buy, she would eventually move into district and then regional HR roles, helping a successful southeast region turnaround that earned accolades company-wide.
When FJ Management CEO Crystal Call Maggelet asked Lazerus to come on board with the Maverik family of companies, Lazerus said the possibility of building out an HR function was too good to pass up. “All of the business units were fully functioning, but it was a small, family-owned business that didn’t have a lot of corporate structure, and the HR function was lacking,” Lazerus says. The job would turn into what Lazerus says is the best job of her career—but not without some serious work.
Of the executive leaders who were at Maverik at the time Lazerus came aboard, only two remained. “With the CEO’s support, I helped transition and rebuild that team,” Lazerus says. Within her own team, Lazerus says, “It was imperative to show our HR leaders how to build a strategic vision for our people team and to challenge processes and create efficiencies so they could focus on people instead of on transactional work.” Creating internal development programs to promote current Maverik employees instead of hiring externally has been a huge point of pride for Lazerus, as many of those promoted employees work their way to future leadership positions.
More recently, Lazerus says that redefining Maverik’s purpose statement has helped create a set of company values that are far more ingrained than when she came aboard. “Our leadership standards have come a long way to empower each other, address conflict head-on, and provide expectations for the ways in which we respect each other,” Lazerus says. “When you’re coaching employees and leaders and trying to help them, we finally have some language that we all understand and can rally behind.”
Building out better expectations and standards, Lazerus says, drives positive business results because taking care of Maverik’s employees ensures that employees will take better care of customers. “That mind-set has been instrumental in helping culturally shift focus back to Maverik’s frontline employees. We work for our store employees; they don’t work for us,” Lazerus says frankly. “We’re here because of them, and what we do at headquarters has to help shape that relationship.”
“That’s how I gauge my own success: have I done everything I can to make an impact on the people I support?”
The HR team has significantly built out its “pay for performance” incentive program so every Maverik employee is able to connect their performance to their pay and have a chance at bonuses connected to store performances. “When you work hard, we want to reward you, and this is just one way we’re working to do that,” the VP says.
Maverik has also placed more emphasis on building relationships between leadership and employees—especially in regard to providing just-in-time feedback, a far cry from the annual performance reviews of old. “You can’t change things in the rearview mirror,” Lazerus says. “We want our people to know exactly where they stand with their leaders and to either celebrate or redirect behavior when it occurs, because that’s when it matters most.”
The results of the company’s HR buildout are pretty clear. With the support of the people team, Maverik has hired excellent people to open approximately twenty new stores a year, filling in the company’s footprint where it needs to be more densely represented and looking into new markets. “You can’t have that kind of growth if you don’t have the right initiatives in place for your employees,” Lazerus says. “That’s how I gauge my own success: have I done everything I can to make an impact on the people I support?”
Impact 21, a strategic partner of Maverik, is pleased to recognize the accomplishments of Maverik’s VP of Human Resources, Kim Lazerus. Kim proficiently conducts all core HR functions, drives initiatives, and strives for operational excellence. Kim is a leader who inspires and empowers others at every level within the company.