Developing and maintaining strong roots of consistent operational excellence in foodservice can be similar to the nurturing needed to establish a tall oak tree; good hearty soil as a foundation, the right amount of water for continued growth, and sufficient sunlight to allow the tree to reach its full potential. If any one of those are lacking, or insufficient, the tree may stunt in growth, or perhaps never really take root.
Striving for operational excellence in your restaurant, convenience store, or supermarket needs a sufficient balance of a strong foundation of principles and standards, a growth plan for team members to flourish, and "sunlight" to understand results and celebrate success.
In this 3 part series, we'll discuss how this impacts frontline teams.
Part 2 - Fostering Individual and Team Growth
Once you've established a strong foundation, individual and team growth is necessary for the foundation to stay strong – like consistently providing water to fuel the growth of your tree.
Individual growth is important for a few obvious reasons. If people are learning and growing their skills, they have a deeper sense of commitment. Retaining the best people means having systems in place that encourage coaching. I've always thought that the mindset of coaching is a stark difference from training. When teams set out to train someone, they often approach it with the goal of" here's how you do this." A coach starts with why this is important, followed by how you accomplish the task, and then shares the results you can achieve when we are successful, or the consequences of not completing the task. If someone understands how their actions can directly support the team and be part of the success and mission, they will often approach their work with a higher sense of pride and responsibility.
We also need to be able to spot the shining stars who want to achieve more, but may be held back. I remember the day a member of the support center stopped by my office and dropped an application on my desk about someone he had just met in a store. They struck up a simple conversation, and he quickly learned about this person's experience, ambitions, and what he was looking to achieve. The manager of that location hadn't shared this with his district manager for many reasons, the main one being overwhelmed with his own challenges and didn't see it as a priority.
We placed this individual into a management training program, and he went on to become an outstanding district manager. But I have to wonder; without that conversation, would that career trajectory have happened, or would he have ended up as just another statistic in our turnover metrics?
Team growth is also important. I'm a firm believer that a successful, winning, focused team raises the level of performance for all individuals. No one wants to be the one that brings the team down, at least not for lack of effort.
I have always enjoyed hearing people communicate during shift change as they let the team coming on duty know what they've accomplished, along with anything they need to be aware of as they get started. This may seem like an ordinary event, which in many cases, it is. But often, I would hear them sharing something special they did to set the next shift up for success. Even if it was something simple as they organized an area of the stockroom to make their production, or ordering, flow more smoothly. This type of teamwork makes the next shift want to reciprocate. Simply put, they start paying it forward!
Individual and team growth need encouragement from the top. Coaching, teaching new skills, and identifying learning opportunities do not happen on their own, or just because you set it as a priority. It's a culture created to bring out everyone's full potential.
Stay tuned for part 3 of this series and download the Ops Leadership Guide to discover how your counterparts across the globe are creating more agile operations, investing in systems to future-proof their businesses, and finding opportunities in adversity.
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