Keep Your Core Values Intact if You Expect to Thrive
What do you stand for? What are your values? Moreover, what are your core values? If you and your leadership team were to write it all on the board, every single character trait that mattered most, what would they be?
Now, go and do just that. Then identify and condense it down, because many of them will be akin. Then create your five main character traits of a successful employee in your company.
For Andolini’s, ours are:
Passionate, Ethical, Competitive,
Effective and Fun.
Passionate is number one, because if they don’t care about everything in an over the top way … nothing else matters. Fun matters because people want to work in and around fun people; it builds morale and stems attrition. Effective is a mandate, because it doesn’t matter how nice a person is if they don’t get results. Competitive matters, too — I want them to strive to be better and to go after the best possible pizzeria experience every time.
There are two traits that are non-negotiable for me: my leaders simply must have them. In short, they must be ethical and passionate. I cannot tolerate anything short of a passionate employee, and my business can’t survive an unethical employee. Ethical leaders make sure our restaurant’s integrity stays intact (as well as our bottom line being secure from theft). For anyone to advance in my company, they must have all five of these traits. They also have to be willing and able. I don’t take that for granted; if someone has all these qualities, but they don’t want it at this stage in their life or are not prepared for it, it won’t work. If they aren’t willing and able, and I force this role upon them, it fails. I can’t hope someone becomes competitive or hope they’re fun, they have to be that already.
If your leaders don’t meet these criteria, what you get is known as Warm Body Syndrome. WBS is when you have a babysitter at your restaurant, not involved any more than they need be, who is punching their ticket daily. Managers and leaders like this make sure nothing goes horribly wrong, but they also completely kill your morale. At the same time, they don’t ensure anything goes incredibly right.
I’ve suffered warm body syndrome employees in the past. It’s excruciating when you want something for someone that they don’t want for themself. Bypass this by establishing what your values are and executing on them. Bear in mind, your restaurant is different than mine, and your values are most likely different than mine, and that’s ok. Do your own thing.
If a sense of urgency is king at your store, make that a core value. No matter what five you choose, what’s not debatable is a leadership team that is willing and able to take them on. They must be capable and willing to execute on these values at all times. If not, you’re spinning your wheels, hoping someone who’s a zebra becomes a giraffe. From experience, I’m letting you down gently here when I say it’s not going to happen. If they are motivated for each value, they can improve. But if they do not possess that character trait, you can’t force it.
What will occur if you do force it is they’ll be unhappy in their job, and you’ll be unhappy in their work performance. They will become zombified workers dominating your front lines. Do not allow WBS anywhere near your management team. Talk with your staff in quarterly performance evaluations about the things they’re doing that match your core values. Then delve into the things they’re doing that could be better. By setting clear expectations, you avoid Warm Body Syndrome. Additionally, employees learn what traits matter to grow in your culture enough to get ahead. This is how growth occurs for them and your restaurant.
This exercise is not corporate fluff; this is as simple as deciding who you are and informing your staff officially, with clarity, what you stand for. Call it traits, values, pillars; it’s all the same. Doing this will save you time, money and heartache, and it’s not that hard.