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You’ve worked late nights, hired an incredible staff, and opened the doors to your dream. How do you put your business on the path to success?
Whether you have one location or 50, you can’t build a great business without building a great team. It’s not just a feel-good saying: your employees are the face of your business, and they scale the experience that you’ve worked so hard to create. They have the incredible power to determine if a customer comes back. How do you help them shine? Here are five secrets:
1. Clear expectations are more important than hiring
Why do star hires become average team members? Often it’s because you didn’t set the right expectations. When you set expectations, you’re providing guidelines and also instilling your culture. If you want an average performance, provide a generic list of responsibilities. If you want an all-star performance, provide a clear indication of what success looks like.
This view of success could be specific objectives, notes on the role, or even modeled behavior. Whatever approach feels natural to you, make sure the expectations are clear, measurable, and attainable — and tied to the success of your business. Instead of saying “Don’t be late,” try “We know our customers are in a hurry; we care about serving them quickly, so we expect you to be clocked in and at your station by your scheduled shift time.” Even “boring” expectations can be tied to the success you want to create.
2. Match your review process to your culture
You’re not a big corporate office, so don’t feel like you have to act like one. Build a review process that helps people get better and matches the culture and speed of your business. Philz Coffee, a beloved and growing coffee company with 29 locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and soon Washington, D.C., eliminated performance reviews entirely. For the CEO, Jacob Jaber, the review process was getting in the way of what he really cared about: helping people get better. Instead of channeling feedback into a process, Jaber encourages regular communication. His goal, he says, is “building a culture that allows people to provide meaningful feedback (both positive and constructive) no matter the title or rank.”
3. You want lots of feedback
The best feedback is specific and received immediately. When you see something you like, let your team know right away and tell them what you liked about it. “I really liked the energy when you welcomed that last customer; it even made me want to come back!” Getting specific lets them know exactly what behavior to continue. So how do you help the feedback flow? Provide as many channels as possible. Start by talking to your employees regularly. Ask them to share what’s going well and what their frustrations are. Second, make sure they know it’s a two-way street. You can use Homebase to collect feedback whenever your team members clock out. Whatever method you use, follow up on the feedback you receive to encourage more of it.
4. The best rewards don’t cost anything
Having a fair, merit-based compensation system is critical for improving performance. It reinforces a culture of success and improvement. But the motivational benefits of a raise disappear quickly. What are you doing today to make your team look forward to coming into work tomorrow? Don’t discount the impact of recognition and thanks. An environment of appreciation boosts your team’s confidence and results in customers who are treated with appreciation. A thoughtfully written note or a thank-you during a staff meeting can have an even bigger impact than a coffee gift card. (But small one-time gifts can also do wonders.)
5. Corrective action doesn’t have to be negative
Have to deliver tough feedback? Remember that your goal is positive: you’re trying to help someone improve. As Jaber of Philz says, “Cut the BS and help people. If you’re uncomfortable giving hard feedback, recognize and embrace that discomfort, then take the next step.” Has it escalated to employee discipline?
Carrie Luxem, the president of the Restaurant HR Group, has helped restaurant operators across the U.S. deal with the rules of employee law. Her recommendation? Keep it simple and write it down. “It can feel scary to take corrective action,” says Luxem, “but using a corrective action form can help ease those anxieties and provide supporting documentation to meet legal requirements.” Luxem has even provided a sample form on the Homebase website under HR Resources. Remember, while this corrective action form can be a helpful resource, you should contact your legal professional if you have questions specific to rules of employment law. We hope these secrets help you build and retain a stellar team in 2016.
—John Waldmann (Founder, Homebase)