What would be your answer if I asked you who you should prioritise? Customers, investors or your team? Many restaurant owners will rank customers first, investors second and then employees. In this article I’ll explain why this way of thinking can kill your business and how to take care of the people upon whom your success actually relies.
Of course you need to satisfy your investors, and to do this you need to keep your customers beyond happy. But who actually has direct contact with your customers to keep them satisfied? Your team! Your values, your menus, your brand can all look great on paper but unless it’s transmitted brilliantly it means nothing. And to do this you need your team to be your biggest, most authentic brand ambassadors.
Look, your team is made up of human beings, not robots (yet!). They can follow the rules and tick those boxes off as they deal with customers and reach out to your audience, but to truly shine, to truly stand out as a fantastic, unique company with unbeatable service you need to make sure that your people are happy. It becomes achingly obvious when people hate their jobs or – maybe equally as bad – are just plain indifferent.
You rely on your whole team far more than you think. And if you don’t, you should do. With a driven, motivated, well trained, loyal, committed and engaged team, you can do anything. Don’t overlook this in order to save money and time. The ROI of investing on your people will speak for itself. If you don’t, your business will die.
The hard truth is that you just won’t be able to scale your business if you don’t have a great team and a solid foundation of structured people practices.
Industry snapshot: It’s not a coincidence that in 2015 Greggs ranked joint number 1 in the UK for employee satisfaction and reported a 51% increase in profits for the first half of that year. (Source: The independent)
Take inspiration from the trailblazers in this field. Companies that step outside of the norm to attract the best people and easily win their trust and loyalty to retain them. Google is famous for the way they treat their employees. Of course there are the fantastic perks like free meals, generous paternity leave and on-site daycare to encourage a healthy work-life balance but Google go beyond this. They also provide real opportunities for personal and professional development with anything from cooking classes to degree programmes and their desirable 80/20 rule that allows employees spend up to 20% of their time on passion projects they believe will help the company.
But, most importantly, Google treat their employees as responsible, intelligent adults with potential for greatness. Which brings us on to my next point.
While you might not have the budget for all of those sweet Google perks there is a lot you can achieve without spending a great deal.
You know that old adage “manners cost nothing”? They don’t. Nor does a smile and nor does a pat on the back. Don’t be that boss who everyone hates! Basic courtesy can take you far; ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘nice work’ – these are the cheapest, and yet most powerful, tools to employee satisfaction and will give you the greatest return. And it sets the tone of how you want your team to treat each other.
Fear might bully people into doing what you want them to do up to a point – and only for so long – but it kills creativity, stunts growth and constricts communication. Lack of fear does not mean lack of respect. Be someone who motivates and inspires to encourage your team to be as outstanding as they can be.
Saying that, don’t feel that you have to be loved by all. Just someone who listens to your people and looks for opportunities that help them to develop and to know that their work, their input, is valued. You’re guaranteed to be repaid many times over.
If you want your team to feel emotionally committed to your business you need to involve them. Share your vision, take care of their career development, keep them bang up to date on company developments and get their input for new products, branding etc. Make sure that you take time to reach out to individuals too and not just via a company wide poll. People feel that they matter when they’re asked for their opinion. And your business will gain value from listening to their opinions! They might see sizeable cost saving opportunities, for example, or sales growth opportunities that you would miss if didn’t ask – and listen to – them.
Keep your communication channels flowing
Having a great relationship with your team that’s built on trust and great communication channels means that you’ll quickly pick up on what’s working and what isn’t.
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson
Training doesn’t just help people perform their day-to-tasks, it’s a vital part of creating a smoothly run operation. It gives people confidence, a sense of fulfilment. This creates a happy team. Which creates happy customers. You know the rest.
A common mistake is to only carry out a performance review with an employee when something has gone wrong. Reviews should be an ongoing process to ensure you don’t reach that situation in the first place. Look at your reviews as an opportunity to recognise great work and to identify possibilities to grow both individuals and your business, and to prevent underperformance.
To properly assess performance, be really clear of your expectations. And don’t hesitate to hold your team accountable – people appreciate it. It shows that what they do matters and it also ensures fairness. Nothing knocks a great employee’s motivation than a colleague who isn’t pulling their weight.
Remember to follow-up after your reviews and remain consistent in your timing and criteria.
Your people have the ability and power to achieve great things if they are allowed to, if they are trained well enough, and if they understand your business objectives. Make it your priority to set them up for success.
There’s nothing more frustrating than not having the right tools to allow you to excel at your work and provide a great service for your customers. Clunky systems that slow down workflow and trigger continuous mistakes don’t provide a fair starting point for people to do a good job. Take time to assess how well your system slots into your company as a whole and whether it actually enables your employees to meet the standards you expect of them. Because without that firm foundation you’ll find it hard to reach your overall growth goals.