And how do you cultivate it?
My wife and I were on vacation a few years back and we saw a restaurant online and wanted to check it out. So, we made a reservation. However, the second we walked in we instantly had a very strange and bad feeling. There was a very weird and dark vibe in the place. We felt very un-welcomed. We left almost immediately.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant or business and instantly thought something isn’t right here? OR
Have you ever walked into a restaurant or business and instantly felt at peace, welcomed, happy?
Either way what you are experiencing is culture.
WHAT IS CULTURE?
Webster defines culture as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. Culture is also the environment of the organization established by the beliefs and priorities of the business and the buy-in of the employees.
Having a great culture is a proactive way to eliminate many future challenges you would face as a restaurateur. In addition, there are some excellent outcomes that occur when you create a great culture. For instance:
Having a great culture will help you develop and cast VISION for your organization. Taking the time to really determine what is important to you will help you determine what your culture should look like.
WHAT CULTURE DO YOU WANT?
What would YOU want to experience as a guest? What kind of a culture would YOU want to work around and in as an employee?
Having a great culture will help you LEAD your restaurant team. This is because it helps you determine which candidates would make a great leader in your restaurant. There are many great mission statements out there. Every restaurant group I ever worked for had great mission statements.
What most of those companies didn’t have was great leadership. Having the right leadership that is in line with your culture is critical to not only the success of the organization but also to maintaining a great culture.
Leading your team by example is the best way to not only implement your culture but also champion the vision and mission statement. Having a written mission statement also allows you and your leaders to effectively communicate the vision you have and gets everyone in line with the goals and strategy. This in turn communicates your culture clearly to the team.
Having great culture will help you RECRUIT great talent. Everyone wants to be on a great team. Whether you are a pro athlete, working for Amazon, or working in a restaurant everyone wants to be on a winning team. And everyone wants to contribute to something bigger than themselves. They want to be part of something that makes a difference.
HOW DO YOU CULTIVATE CULTURE?
Think of culture in the word Agriculture. In this example, the seed is the employee. If you want your culture to be hospitality, your employees need to be hospitable. First make sure you have the right employee. You wouldn’t plant an apple tree and expect to get oranges, right? That would be bananas (I know, old dad joke).
Your culture is the soil. The soil (culture) must be rich in nutrients to help the seed (team member) grow and thrive. If your culture isn’t providing the things the employee needs they will dry up. The seed (team member) needs water. Water is training. The team member needs training to grow.
The seed also needs sunlight. Likewise, the team member needs recognition when they do well. They need constant feedback to know when they are crushing it as well as when they need to tighten something up. Lastly, you need to remove the weeds (toxic people). Healthy and productive team members will leave if they watch you tolerate toxic employees.
So, determine what your culture is. Find the right people (seeds). Then train them and give them feedback and pull some weeds so they have room to grow.
Editor's note: This is the 10th article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,' is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The 10th article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here.