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The Art of Being A World Class Business (Part 2)

Written by: Craig Twombly
Published: September 2011

Last month we started discussing the Art of Being World Class. Every organization strives to be the best at what they do. Whether it is serving food or selling furniture, each organization strives to do their best. Although leaders are constantly striving for world class, sometimes we miss the mark and question why.

The Merriam Webster's dictionary defines World Class as, "Being of the highest caliber in the world." So, how do you get employees to perform within their discipline or jab at such a high standard? When I was a young manager, I often looked to define world class as high performance of an employee based solely on the tangible items within their job. A world class line cook should at least have great ticket times and low food cost numbers. Although this is an important attribute to being a world class in the restaurant business, it's not the only thing. After further review, the same line cook might have great tangible financial numbers, but the food servers could not work with him. He was often viewed as difficult to deal with. I would have servers give me examples of the line cook not preparing the food correctly or not willing to fix mistakes that were made by the server. In the end he could run food costs and execute ticket times, but the guest was not receiving a world class Standard. In the midst of the line cook executing what he felt was important, we actually missed the mark.

When defining world class, it is important to think about it outside of the real hard tangible evidence. World class goes far beyond how much employees can sell or produce. Often times it is the intangible items that are hard to define. As a facilitator of public workshops world class is defined as more than just getting information or techniques to participants. World class is carried over to how the participants felt during the training and if they were comfortable. Did they leave with confidence around their newly formed skills? Were they able to return to the workplace and execute those skills?

So, how do you move your organization to world class?

  1. Set expectations with the staff. I sometimes would become frustrated and wonder why the employees didn't get it. If the staff does not know what world class means to your organization, you might only get what the job description states. When I set expectations with the staff, it wasn't, "Show up for your shift!" They were more intangible, such as:
    • Treat the guest better than you would want to be treated
    • When you are here be here be engaged with all staff and guests.
    • Take appropriate risks, if a guest is unhappy do what is best.
  2. Discuss the world class standard people spend as much time at work as they do in their personal lives. Employees want to be engaged in what impacts them. Spend the time to discuss and define the term. Discuss ways in which they can impact the standard. If the employee has an opportunity to discuss and develop the world class standards, they are more likely to own it. By owning it, they have created the standard to execute it.
  3. Take the time to coach. As we have often discussed coaching is key to the success of employees. I had a manager years ago that said, "It's not okay to just talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.” Kind of corny, but very true. Being world class is not something you roll out at a meeting and magically happens. Work it daily. There needs to be feedback on the standards. If an employee does something world class, let them know.

Just a quick thank you goes a long way. At the same time defining what world class will give them the ability to get down into the details of events or situations and work through the outcome.

Example: The host position was a position of high turnover within the restaurant that I managed. Employees would enter the restaurant as a host and usually be promoted from there to other positions. With a new host we would talk about how holding the door open made a guest feel like a guest in someone's home, and how you always greet a guest and say hello before they greet you. We would incorporate this into our training and our service standards. In the beginning it was a challenge to the staff, open the door before the guest could and greet them first. Nowhere in an employee hand book did it discuss holding the door open. This was one step in moving from just good service to world class service.

What do you and your organization do to encourage world class service? We believe all organizations should ask that question often to keep us all on our toes.

Craig Twombly

Craig Twombly

Craig is the primary facilitator at Priority Learning, he is responsible for conducting an array of leadership series offered and consulting assignments from communications to team development in organizations ranging from the service industries to finance, manufacturing and more. Having extensive experience at balancing the business needs with the wants and desires of people are Craig's strongest assets.