by Donald Burns, CDMP, CMEC, CHt
Want a better restaurant? Core values are a primary determinant of culture, employee satisfaction and business performance.
So, if core values are so important why do not more restaurant owners know what theirs are?We can easily say that the excitement of opening a new restaurant has so many details attached to it that perhaps understanding your core values gets overlooked. That is a huge mistake.
I have said this before, and I will say it again ….
“All business problems are really people problems in disguise.”
Most people problems are really caused by when we act out of congruency with our core values. Screw coming up with some blah, blah, blah mission statement that doesn’t really mean anything.
You want better restaurant? Then you need to get in touch and discover your core values. Once you do they become the basis for your culture and your brand. Core values are not just words you say they are words you live by. They help guide and direct your restaurant especially during difficult times.
My 10X Restaurant Coaching Program takes restaurant owners and operators through what I call The 7 Core Competencies of Restaurant Excellence. Guess what module one is? Understand and Connect with Your Core Values
Core values are the building blocks of your restaurant’s culture
The core values of an restaurant are the foundation of your culture. Core values do more than just promote ethical business practices. The system of core values that a business owns will shape the culture of the restaurant, the decision-making criteria of your managers and the actions of your employees. The more strongly defined the core values, the more likely that this value system will serve as a code of conduct that promotes and guides strategically-aligned behaviors within managers and employees.
The process of defining, measuring, and improving core values can be an excellent vehicle for improving restaurant culture
There are many benefits to be realized by utilizing core values to drive cultural change, but perhaps the following are most significant:
– The process defines a shared set of beliefs and commitments to the way the employees of a business want to behave and treat each other
– The process guides decisions and emphasizes what’s important to the business as plans are developed to change and improve the restaurant
– Measuring provides a way to quantify perceptions (ratings), understand context and experiences (comments), and understand which core values appear to most influence overall belief system satisfaction
– The process enables restaurants to track progress, both formally and informally
Core values provide a common language to address unacceptable behaviors in a less threatening way
Core values help fill in the spaces where HR policies have gaps. The story of an restaurant with a rumor-spreading employee comes to mind. It is shared here to illustrate the point that core values reinforce desired behaviors and help manage those that fall out of line with expectations.
This story demonstrates an example where core values helped a manager address a pattern of unacceptable employee behavior in a non-threatening way that defused and rectified a bad situation.
Core values guide decisions and emphasize what is important to the business as the restaurant continues to change and improve
Restaurant owners know the importance of hiring employees that project a positive image of the business. Management must be able to know that decisions made and actions taken by employees will protect the restaurant and portray it well. “Values-aligned” managers and employees benefit the entire restaurant by demonstrating predictable and favorable decision-making capabilities and behaviors that are reflective of the executive management mindset. When management provides the core values “compass” to help influence and guide behavior, those closest to the action in the restaurant can respond with appropriate decisions and actions.
Core values influence performance
Restaurants with strong cultures rooted in shared core values tend to have much happier employees. Happier employees help businesses be more productive. In fact, there is research suggests core values directly correlate with business performance.
If core values have not yet been established, they can be discovered by following this process
1. Develop lists of values:
– Personal: Each member of the leadership team should develop his or her own internal (personal) values list.
– Corporate: Each member of the leadership team should develop his or her own corporate values list.
– Make sure to select core values that truly resonate with you. This requires you to be a little honest with yourself.
Download the same Core Values Worksheet that I use in my 10X Restaurant Coaching.
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2. Reconcile / Vote / Rank:
– As a group, vote on the corporate values to determine the finalists.
– It’s nice to get input from some your key team members, however remember as the owner that it is your business with your reputation and your money on the line. The final list should be in congruence with the owners core values and brand identity for the restaurant.
3. Define behaviors that exemplify the final core values.
– Compile a list of expected behaviors for each core value
– Consider different roles within the restaurant and what behaviors might look like within those contextual settings.
Example: let’s say one of your core values is honesty. The context of behavior expected by your team is that you have no tolerance for staff that is not honest with you, the team and especially the customer. The line has been drawn in the sand and now if someone crosses that you have to take action or you have compromised your core values. That leads poor performance, stress and a variety of business issues and problems that if not dealt with take on a life of their own.
4. Determine measurements for the core value behaviors.
– Examine methods that can be used to measure the behaviors.
– Consider indexes for employee satisfaction, productivity and performance and other metrics that can be captured through normal processes or newly developed surveys.
5. Communicate about the core values.
– This is probably the most important role of a restaurant owner, chef and general manager: get on your soapbox and preach the company’s core values every single day.
– You must also act and behave in congruence with the core values that you have established. Nothing will spin your business into the ground faster than an owner who says one thing and does the other. That’s why it’s important to pick core values that truly resonate from with in you.
Connecting with your restaurant’s core values are actually a primary determinant of culture, employee satisfaction and business performance. I keep my core values list in my day planner and I look at it every morning to make sure I’m in line and acting in congruence with those values as I approach today. If it face a difficult situation, sometimes I pulled the list out, just to make sure I am living my truth as I see it. Which gets into the topic of identity and that is a whole another blog post.