Do you like to do a lot of work for no return? Of course not. But that's the lot of too many Canadian restaurateurs. According to the Canadian Restaurant and Food Association, Canada's restaurant and foodservice industry directly employs more than one million people, generates $60 billion in annual sales and accounts for 4% of the national economy. Despite such impressive statistics, the average restaurant in 2010 only had a pre-tax cash flow of 7.6% of sales.
Regardless of their industry, most other businesses are in the same situation. To tip the scales in your favour, you need to create a high-performing culture—one in which employees are engaged in the vision of the company and have shared values and shared accountability for the company's results.
Big business has already paved the way for us in this area. Look at Apple, WestJet and Disney. Disney's vision is simple: Create a magical experience. I was at Disney's Hollywood Studios in April when it suddenly started to rain heavily. As everyone rushed for cover, an elderly man struggled to walk with his cane to the sheltered area. Within seconds, a Disney employee took off his own rain poncho and put it on the man, and helped him get out of the rain. Now that's called flawless execution of a vision.
Read: How Disney Did It for four lessons on other ways to make your company get results like Disney.
Your business may not be the size of Disney but you don't need big budgets create a Disney-like culture, all you need is your passion and take these four steps.
1. Develop and share your vision and values
You're passionate about the concept you've built from scratch. But for your business to succeed, you need to share your company's vision and values with your managers because they are key to engaging and energizing your employees. The key to having your vision embraced by an entire organization is simplicity. Can you articulate your vision in one sentence? More important, can your managers and your employees do the same?
It sounds easy, but I found implementation to be challenging at Vin Room, the restaurant business I launched in 2012. In my corporate life, concepts such as vision and values were part of the daily vocabulary. When I introduced these concepts my small business, my managers reacted as if it was a foreign language.
My vision was simple enough: create the premier wine bar enterprise in Canada. So were the values: focus on the guest first and the business second. But this can mean different things to different people. I've learned patience in relating this to individual managers and how it reflects in their daily activities.
I've also learned it's important to take your simple message and repeat it, over and over again. Find every opportunity in your own actions to reinforce this message to staff. Then, challenge managers and staff to measure their responses to problems against your vision and values. Reward those who get it right and coach those who miss the mark. If they continue to miss the mark, they don't belong in your organization.
2. Share accountability for behaviours and results
Now that you've communicated your vision, your managers need to know what it takes to succeed. Create a common understanding of the culture, aligned behaviours and shared goals by highlighting what's in it for your managers beyond monetary reward and personal development.