Rules, rules, and more rules. Do this. Don’t do that. Does it seem like you spend most of your day like a babysitter at work telling the team more of what not to do? Welcome to management by numbers.
You’ve probably seen that list of rules in your restaurant, and each one has a number next to it.
Rule number one: be here 15 ministers before your shift.
Rule number two: be dressed and ready for your shift.
And so on down the list, they go — each one just a declaration of the proper etiquette we want from the team. No explanation, just the expectation. Well, a very vague explanation and expectation.
Rules tell people the minimum standard for what you tolerate. They lack empathy and motivation. Getting people to follow the rules is a lot like herding cats, and if you have been in leadership for any time (or read my previous post), you know that is one tough job. Motivating other with rules doesn’t work. Sure, a few will comply out of fear. Which leads us to talk about a classic scenario most restaurant and bars face...
When you manage by fear and intimidation, you get compliance. In the hierarchy of restaurant needs, compliance is just above rules, and both are near the bottom. Here’s the problem with compliance; they do the minimum to get by. When this mindset has infested your culture, you have allowed mediocrity to move in. Believe me when I say that once mediocrity has made your restaurant home, it’s going to be very hard to get it evicted!
On the other end of the spectrum is commitment. When you are committed, how far will you go to get it done? All the way! You don’t let setbacks or hurdles stop you. They may slow you down; however they don’t stop you from getting the outcome you set your sights on. When you are committed, you are connected to your reason why you want it.
The big difference (and game changer) is when you understand what drives each one within your team. When people are acting in compliance, they do it for your reasons. When they act in commitment, they do it for their reasons. Which one has an impact on the culture in your restaurant? If you said compliance, I’ll give you a second to rethink that.
Now, some like to use fear and intimidation to rule their restaurant. Those people don’t last long in this business with today’s workforce. Respect needs to be a core value if you want to keep your turnover to a manageable level. What’s a manageable turnover level? You should be aiming for under 25%. Anything higher than that, and you need to take a hard look at your culture.
That list of rules you have is not much more than the same monotone crap that every other restaurant has in place. Things have changed in the workplace, and we must change with them. Adaptation is the superpower of the human race. It has served our species well since we no longer live in a cave and grunt at each other around a primitive fire (okay, some people still grunt). The evolution of humans came from our ability to communicate. To move people with communication, we must tap into emotions.
Look back on all the great motivational speeches of our time, and they all play hard into emotions. Martin Luther King Jr said, “I have a dream.” He didn’t say, “I have a good idea.” John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country?” He did not say, “Stop whining and be part of the solution.” Properly applied emotions move people to take action. They inspire people to take a stand. They can get your team actually to act like a team!
For years I have employed a simple, yet powerful code of conduct in any restaurant I owned, managed or coached. The concept came from when I was a member of the USAF Pararescue Teams. Upon graduation from this elite special operations school, we accepted out coveted maroon berets, and we swore an oath. That oath still runs through my head and is a part of my DNA. When you live by a code, you have only one objective, and that is to live it!
The Samurai warriors had the Bushido code. Seven core tenants, they swore to live by or die. Yes, a code of conduct can be bonded into our very core of who we are. Never underestimate the power of identity.
Here is the code that I have used for the past 25 years. Feel free to use as much of it as you like or use it to inspire you to create your own.
Only put it on your code that you would go to hell and back to defend. A code only works when the team knows you believe in it 100%! Words without the actions to back them up make you a hypocrite. The industry is full of hypocrite managers. Don’t be one of them.
When you can express your values through a code of conduct within your restaurant or bar, you will have team buy-in at a level you never thought possible. Will, everyone on your team, take the oath you create? Of course not.
Then again, not everyone is a good match for your team. Far better to send someone down the road to work at another restaurant later try to get someone to believe in your set of values. When you know exactly who you are (core values) and what you believe in (your code of conduct) you will have the one thing many miss...a culture that stands out.
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