Examining the 24 Barriers to Execution
It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, and promises are promises but only performance is reality. –Harold Geneen
So you’ve trained all your managers on the Key Performance Initiatives: Same Store Sales, Customer Service, Cost Control, Labor, Throughput, Hiring, Retention, Training, Marketing, Repair & Maintenance. You’ve collectively set and shared the annual target numbers relative to profitability and sales. You’re pretty sure they know what to do and have the tools to get it done. Morale is strong; heck, you even sent them all to that seminar focused on those steps by that guy who wrote that book. They seemed to enjoy it and it sounds like they even got something from it.
But for some reason, they’re just not applying what they know. Despite the recent uptick in customer visits, your unit manager’s performance and numbers are not keeping pace. Transactions are up, but sales are down. Turnover is high and ticket average low. They don’t seem to be using what they’ve learned. Why not?
Seasoned foodservice trainers will tell you that managers or team members will not perform up to expectations for one of three reasons:
1) they don’t know,
2) they can’t do, or
3) they don’t care.
If they don’t know or can’t do, those issues can typically be resolved by investing in more training or providing additional resources. (If they fall in to the category of 3) don’t care, my prescription is as down to earth as Home Plate: give those people a job at the competition.) And I also think there are two additional reasons why people under-perform:
4) no accountability and
5) no consideration of circumstantial obstacles.
In other words, if you don’t hold people accountable for their performance that performance will vary. And if you don’t consider (and offset) the specific extenuating circumstances that routinely hamper execution, performance will suffer.
Some executives blame training curriculum or teaching frequency when manager’s performance wanes. But that’s as misguided as blaming Driver’s Ed if your 16-year-old had a minor car accident on a rainy night. You have to dig deeper and question the situations that cause teams to abandon what they know. Classroom training can prepare you intellectually for situational leadership, but only experience itself will determine if you can–and will–apply what you know during each Shift. Challenging, unexpected and stressful shift situations will readily marginalize knowledge and constrict ability.
We recently polled 115 foodservice unit managers and 58 multiunit managers and asked them this question: “Under what circumstances do Managers do the wrong thing even though they know how to do the right thing?” Here are the most common responses based on frequency:
- When I’m under-staffed or under-pressure
- If I’m in a hurry
- During high-volume periods
- Poor Time management
- Lack of prioritization
- When it costs me (or us) more money to do the right thing
- Lack of a daily plan
- If it’s requires some new process and I don’t trust it
- When I feel overworked
- When I abandon Shift Routines if the day isn’t going according to plan.
- When something doesn’t make sense
- When some new procedure or process or rule has only been communicated to one person and it’s not been shared
- When I don’t value the training I got
- If they don’t believe in what they’re taught/told.
- When I hear different things from different managers or supervisors
- If it’s likely to impact my bonus by driving up costs
- When I want my supervisor to think I know what I’m doing instead of asking for help
- When the right thing takes more time, seems more difficult, or is less familiar.
- If I’m over in labor, I might take shortcuts in training, or try to fudge inventory numbers
- When I think no one will notice
- If there’s no follow up or notice or consequences.
- When the district manager fails to consistently follow up
- The evening shift (less accountability and no surprise visits from corporate.)
This list provides unique insight into common situational leadership hurdles. The responses align into three distinct category “buckets”:
1) Focus/Time management issues (responses 1-11),
2) Training/Communication issues (12-19), or
3) Accountability issues (21-24).
The lessons learned? If you want to help your managers excel at situational leadership, stress the skills related to better time management, focus, communication and accountability. This makes training more effective and productivity spike.
It’s been said that experience is the best teacher, but in some ways it’s the worst; it gives the test before presenting the lesson (and don’t forget that experience only teaches the teachable). Review the list above with your managers and see if these circumstances sound familiar. Ask them the same question we did and see what additional situations they might identify. Have them discuss and share best practices, and learn how to anticipate and control challenging circumstances when they arise.
Take a closer look at when performance drops and you’ll gain keener insight into why performance drops.
You can follow Jim on Twitter (@Sullivision) and get his free phone app of leadership quotes called QuoteZilla at Google Play or iTunes. His website is www.sullivision.com
Interested in bringing our popular live (and customized) Execution Workshop to your next Management Conference? Send us an email to Seminars@sullivision.com for more information on rates, topics, availability and how we can customize it together to your brand and objectives