Author Archive for: ‘Leslie Phillips, Chief Executive Officer’

Culture & Danny Meyer’s 51% Rule

Many of us read Danny Meyer’s book, Setting the Table, some years ago when we featured it in MG Book Club and discussed it at meetings around that time.

He and Union Square Hospitality Group (or “USHG,” his company), continue to be a source for best practices, habits, philosophies for our industry. From this recent article: Danny Meyer’s Recipes for Success:

USHG language has evolved over the years as a collection of management aphorisms Meyer created in Setting the Table. The “51 percent rule” describes the personality-based hiring principle Meyer conceived by instinct. Potential employees are awarded a “hospitality quotient” score based on traits such as optimism, warmth, and empathy. When evaluating potential hires, 51 percent of the weighting is given to emotional intelligence, and 49 percent to technical skills. There’s extra percentage points on the emotional side that can’t be taught…

The article goes on to describe how they hire for these skills, incorporate them into their onboarding process, and continually train around them. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Lean in on being human

In our business, it’s not enough to prepare and serve fabulous food. Hospitality is about how we make people feel while they are enjoying the fabulous food. It’s about the whole experience. In other words, our soft skills must be equal to our technical skills: “as artificial intelligence makes further inroads into your daily work these uniquely human skills are what will differentiate your team members from the bots… If we are to successfully co-exist with increasingly sophisticated technology, we need to amp up our humanity.”

Ways to do this? Be as focused on how something went well as you are on what was achieved. Acknowledge set-backs and encourage those close to it that, yes, this is a tough time – but we will get through it! Recognize soft skills in action, and specifically (great job handling that frustrating situation calmly and with kindness!).

In the end, it’s making real connections with one another that makes us all feel better.

Where’s your focus?

Switching up the order of MG core value number 5: Be positive, be gracious, be kind. Don’t ask me to pick which behavior is most important…can’t do it! But this article (Choose your focus because your eyes control your tongue) zeros in on being positive. What does that really mean? Here are some points to consider…

    It’s not enough to accentuate the positive. You have to eliminate the negative.
    Walk around looking for mistakes and all you talk about is mistakes.
    Repeated complaining hard-wires the brain to do more complaining. The more negative you are, the more negative you become.

Steps to help?

    1. Focus on solutions when problems emerge.
    2. Focus on strengths. High performance comes from leveraging strengths not fixing (all) weaknesses.
    3. Focus on the future. Remember the future is built today.
    4. Focus on gratitude.
    5. Focus on progress. Energy increases with forward movement, as long as you don’t complain that it’s not enough!

Ask Yourself

The busyness of the fall is swiftly followed by the buzz of the holidays.
But take a moment to reflect on how you and your team are functioning.
Is your team running on all cylinders? Are you operating with minimal chaos (and drama)? How is everyone’s attitude? How is yours?

If you have someone whose work is not up to snuff, ask yourself: are they not right for the position or not ready?

There is a difference. And if they are not ready – you MUST ask yourself: do I have the time and resources to develop them?

If you have someone who is regressing, ask yourself: do they know what I expect of them?

Or, have they lost interest because they’re under challenged?

If you have someone whose work is great, but they resist feedback or have a crusty attitude, ask yourself: do I have the courage to talk with them about their attitude?

Talk is Not Cheap

Humans are (still) social creatures wired to connect. It’s true.
And since in addition to loving food, we love people and serving others, we will always keep the conversation going about how to have a better conversation: one that leaves you and the other person feeling inspired, engaged, and basically — really good.

Watch this short TED Talk: 10 ways to have a better conversation
(It’s not just about eye contact…as she says: there’s no reason to show you are paying attention…if, in fact…you are paying attention!)

1. Don’t multi-task (physically or mentally). Be present.
2. Don’t pontificate: if you want to state opinions without discussion, write a blog! Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn.
3. Use open-ended questions: what was that like, how did that feel, what do you think.
4. Go with the flow – meaning, let thoughts come as you are listening but let them go. Don’t check out of listening because you’re cueing up that random thought or story you want to share.
5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.
6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. All experiences are individual.
7. Try not to repeat yourself, it’s condescending and boring.
8. Stay out of the weeds. That detail you are trying to remember (exact year or place) really isn’t that important to others.
9. Listen. This is the most important skill humans can develop. No man ever listened himself out of a job (quoting Calvin Coolidge).
10. Be brief.
Do all of these and be prepared to be amazed.

Presence & Presents

Both are gifts you can get and give; but our presence is available at no charge to us and at great benefit to those around us.

Human beings cannot multitask. What we are capable of is handling a number of serial tasks in rapid succession, or mixing automatic tasks with those that are not so automatic. That’s one of the reasons the NTSB reports that texting while driving is the functional equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. You just can’t effectively attend to two things at once – even the superficially automatic ones.

So, how do we stay present? The first thing to recognize is that, try as we might, we really can only do one thing at a time, so we ought to do that thing wholeheartedly.

Ways to foster our own “presence” include focusing on our breathing (and taking a deep breath); stepping back and observing ourselves; letting go of things that are not actually happening in the moment (meaning, the past and the future).

A busy food service operation is a great place to practice being present. Let the giving begin!

Going up?

We recently heard Simon Sinek’s messages about empathy. He suggests that to practice empathy in the workplace we must — daily — make the well-being of others (our teammates, our customers, our health inspector, etc.) a conscious, visible, intentional priority.

This theme also connects with this article about the mood elevator.
The Mood Elevator is an awareness tool…used to describe our moment-to-moment experience of life. It encompasses a wide range of feelings and together, these emotions play a major role in defining the quality of our lives as well as our effectiveness.

Behaviors found on the “higher” (positive) floors of the mood elevator include:
 

1. Positive spirit/vitality. Creating an environment where there is teamwork, mutual support (AND EMPATHY), and cooperation…where people are fun to be around, proud of what they do, and willing to put in the effort that is beyond normal expectations.

2. Collaboration/trust. Creating frequent and open two-way communication… maintaining openness and trust…with high levels of (EMPATHY) feedback and coaching.

3. Appreciation/recognition. And rewarding performance.

4. Agility/innovation/growth. Encouraging people to innovate, create, and be open to change. Empowering people, and having a bias for action and an urgency to move forward.

5. Customer/quality focus. Having a high focus on, and awareness of, quality and customer service.

6. Ethics/integrity. Acting with honesty…Core Values and ethics are very important and decisions are made for the greater good of the organization. Seeing healthy differences and diversity as strengths.

7. Performance orientation. Having high expectations for performance and accountability for actions and results. Being a self-starter.

8. Direction/purpose. Providing a sense of direction and purpose…with clear alignment and connection with the organization’s strategic goals.

 
Live the above and you’ll be more creative, joyful and productive. Promise.

Like Fred & Ginger

When we see or experience two people or two concepts that are silky smooth, fine tuned, natural, beautiful….we may say (or hear), “you know…they’re like Fred and Ginger.” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers knew how to dance.

In Culture isn’t enough, the Fred and Ginger are Culture AND Brand.
Timely, especially as we work on our company meeting agenda where the word “brand” is spotlighted.

On the topic of Culture, it’s true, “happy, engaged employees do indeed produce better results.” Employees get and stay engaged for a variety of reasons. Having the chance to do what you do best every day, hearing appreciation, getting coaching and honest feedback so you can grow and be successful…the things that turn you on, turn on your team, too.

“But if you want to do more than survive — if you want to increase your competitiveness, to create real value for your customers and employees, to future-proof your business — having a good, generic culture isn’t enough. You should cultivate a culture that is aligned and integrated with your brand.”

How to do this:

1. Adopt a single brand purpose to inspire, focus, and guide everything your organization does. Start with why your organization exists (not what you do or how you do it). And why is NEVER “to make money.” Customers do not seek us out because we do something to make money. MG’s why? Articulated by many in many different ways — but all seem to center around wanting to make lives better (our customers, our employees, our growers, and on and on).

2. Articulate one set of core values and use them to shape what you do inside your organization and out.

3. Check in on how you are doing. Are you performing well in both areas? Are employees engaged and feeling good about their work; and are you making lives better every day?

Can you hear the music and see the silhouettes gliding across the dance floor?

Start Small & Repeat

I love our mantra, Make a Difference Every Day. I love wearing my MG tee shirt that reminds me to set this daily intention and helps me share the message with everyone around me. And yet, sometimes, I fall into the trap of measuring the difference on the wrong scale. While some days it’s huge — something you plan for, commit to, and do (like organizing a full day of service in your community; helping build a Habitat house, etc.); the rest of the days, it’s not.
 
“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily difference we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
— Marion Wright Edelman
 
And that’s what makes this mindset…and our actions that support it, every day…so magical.

Stop Focusing on the Actual Goal

For a company that is wild about wildly important goals…say what?!?
 
You need a goal (or two, but not more than 3!) and it needs to be measurable. The process of identifying and agreeing upon a goal (what can be even better, cleaner, tastier, safer) brings focus…to everyone. And, by the way…”focus” is the single word to which both Warren Buffet and Bill Gates attribute their success — not determination, not smarts, not courage, not creativity — but focus.
 
BUT, to achieve your goal? Spend your time focusing on your “systems”.
 
“If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day…When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time. None of this is to say that goals are useless…goals are good for planning your progress, while systems are good for actually making progress.”
 
So, you have a goal…pulse-check…what are your systems for achieving it and maintaining the desired result? Focus, focus and refocus on that.