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Part II: Why Being The Restaurant Of Choice Means Putting Culture First

Part two of a two-part series on the importance of creating great culture in restaurants Featuring Tom Frank For this series, we spoke to Culture Engineer, Tom Frank to explore topic of culture in restaurants and the value of having a great culture. In Part 1, we defined why culture is important, and now, in […]

Part two of a two-part series on the importance of creating great culture in restaurants

Featuring Tom Frank

For this series, we spoke to Culture Engineer, Tom Frank to explore topic of culture in restaurants and the value of having a great culture. In Part 1, we defined why culture is important, and now, in Part 2, we’ll help you understand how to get there.

Tom started off by saying, “Everybody talks about culture, but no one is giving people real direction on how to make culture happen. To make great culture happen, you have to distinguish between what you aspire to and what your culture actually is. Culture isn’t the poster on the wall or what’s in your manual or the sayings you have on your computer. Culture is as culture does.”

For example, if you say you have a culture of respect, but you hire a manager who is disrespectful to his employees, then – for those employees at least – you do not have a culture of respect.

Tom said, “There’s a saying that for the worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish – because that’s what they are surrounded by.” For the employee being disrespected, the culture is about disrespect. Disrespect is their horseradish. Like it or not, for those employees, disrespect is your culture.

In fact, if you have a culture that is in direct conflict with the posters you have on the wall or what’s in your employee manual, that contradiction causes you and your managers to lose credibility with your teams, making it even more difficult to impact positive change.

According to Tom, in order for your values and guiding principles to be a working part of your culture, you have to have 4 qualities:

1. Shared Belief

It’s not enough to put a poster on the wall with your values on them. There’s far too much room for interpretation. Everyone in the organization, and especially the leadership level, needs to know and understand the meaning behind each belief.

For example, one client told him they wanted honesty to be a core value for the company; however, upon asking two of the leaders why honesty was important, their definitions were completely different. One said, “so we can have open and honest conversations.” The other said, “because I don’t want people to steal from me.” One of those values is based on trust, the other on distrust. Until there is clarity and alignment, there won’t be a positive result.

2. Your Values and Beliefs Must Drive A Specific Behavior

In order for there to be a functioning value or guiding principle in your culture, it needs to drive specific behavior and should define a specific way for your team to act. For example, if “Always Learning” is a core value, that might indicate that ongoing training is an expectation. Beyond on-the-job training, you might put tools in place to ensure that your team can take additional courses to help them learn new skills and grow into new roles.

It’s also important to note that you should hire and retain talent based on your values. If you find you have hired someone who doesn’t exemplify the behaviors as defined by your values, it’s important to recognize the ability to take people out of the culture who don’t fit it.

3. The Values or Beliefs Need to Become A Tool for Management to Manifest That Behavior

Values need to be active, working tools for your managers. If you manage the culture, the culture will manage the business for you because your values become tools for managers to use to drive behavior. Your culture becomes a filter so that when anyone has a decision to make or an action to take, they can pour it through the filter of your values and guiding principles and be assured it’ll be a good decision and consistent with what you believe as an organization. This, in turn, allows you to empower managers and team members to make more and more decisions on their own. And your teams begin using those values to drive decisions, you also ensure consistency across shifts and locations. Now, all of your restaurants can follow a similar value system and run the same way.

4. Your Values Need to Become Part of the Language of the Culture

When cultural anthropologists study civilizations, they first look for language. The more advanced the language, the more advanced the culture. We know now that in organizations that have a strong culture, the language of the culture becomes part of the vernacular. In order for your culture to help you manage your restaurant, you and your managers must use the language of your values and principles every day, in every meeting, at every encounter.

Think of phrases you and your managers commonly use. Are they representative of the culture you aspire to? If not, you and your leadership team needs to actively work to express themselves in a way that demonstrates your cultural values.

For example, think of how a pre-shift mantra could reflect and impact your culture. Note the differences between a phrase like:

“Let’s go out there and CRUSH this shift!”nvs.n”We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

One is more aggressive, colloquial, younger and casual. The other suggests a more formal, buttoned-up culture.

Tom was clear: “When these 4 qualities are not in place, unbelievable contradictions and inconsistencies emerge. People are often embarrassed when these inconsistencies are pointed out, but because they become so obvious.”

Most often, leaders fall into the trap of aspiring to one thing, but measuring another. We all know the old adage, “What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done,” so when you aspire to one thing, but measure another, you are creating an inherent conflict.

For example, if one of your values is to deliver the best customer experience possible, but you measure your wait staff on how quickly they can turn their tables, then you aren’t really making sure you are delivering the best customer experience. There is in an inherent contradiction in measuring speed above all else, but expecting that your culture is about delivering the best customer service.

Tom Frank, owner of Round World Management on the name of his company:

Tom compares ‘Round World’ thinking’ to ‘Flat World’ thinking this way: ‘Flat World’ companies are managed through policies, procedures, rules and regulations. When decision needs to be made, the team has to know what the policy or rule is. If a policy doesn’t exist, then it is time for another meeting and another policy.

A ‘Round World’ company manages through its values and beliefs. It empowers managers and team members by providing them with a clear framework for good decision-making and then rewards decisions that are consistent with the values and principle that are the company’s culture.

Tom can be reached here:
Email: tom@roundworldmanagment.com
LinkedIn: Tom Frank

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