In far too many businesses leadership has fallen by the wayside. That includes owners and managers in the pizza business. The economy, rising costs, fierce competition and long days and nights have caused most owners to have little, if any, time to think about their ability to lead. They are simply trying to stay afloat.
Even those pizza business owners who are experiencing strong growth rarely stop and think about how much more productive and profitable they could be if they paid more attention to this critical area of business.
Smart owners however, have recognized that success starts and stops with an organization’s leadership. They know that no matter how mouth-watering and delightful their pizza is, and how creative their marketing, advertising and promotions may be, they can never accomplish their goals without a highly motivated staff. They operate with a basic business fundamental that many small business owners seem to forget: Employee performance is the key to success and long-term business growth. Within the motivated employee are ideas, solutions to problems and the ability to bring customers back.
In an ideal world, every person you hire is self-motivated. However, in the pizza business, there are obstacles, including limited opportunities for advancement and ceilings on pay increases. Therefore, it’s up to you and your managers to keep employees motivated to deliver the highest level of customer service each day. This is not an easy task, and much depends on how employees feel about their boss.
The Boss Vs. the Manager Vs. a Dynamic Leader
Although these three roles are supervisory in nature, they are distinctly different. Which one are you?
Boss: Simply put, a boss is someone who owns the business or someone with a title who tells people what to do. He or she passes out orders as easily as salespeople pass out business cards. Interestingly, the number one cause of job dissatisfaction in America is working for a bad boss! These bosses micromanage people, show favoritism, talk down to their staff and shoot down ideas. There should be a policy of “Zero-Tolerance for Bad Bosses” in every company.
Manager: A manager directs, decides, and interacts with his or her staff to oversee operations, make sure customers are happy and watch over the cash register. Managers in the pizza business are responsible for much more. Regardless of what type of business they work in, managers are accountable to owners for results.
Dynamic Leader: A dynamic leader has a vision of where he or she wants the business to go. They eloquently communicate their vision and have an innate ability to motivate, inspire, and influence their staff to do what needs to be done – and do it well. Smart pizza business owners practice dynamic leadership and insist their managers do the same. They also recognize that because they have a title, they don’t automatically get respect. They have to earn it.
Be a Dynamic Leader
To determine your ability to lead and motivate your employees, start by considering your core values. Hopefully, you have established them, and have posted them on your website, placed them in a frame and put them on your walls. Some common core values include: honesty, integrity, respect, ethics, excellence, teamwork, accountability – you get the idea.
Set the example for others to follow. It’s the one leadership principal most people have heard and it seems like its simple enough. Think about the type of person you would want to follow; be that person. Work alongside staff and demonstrate your core values, a strong work ethic and the highest-level professionalism.
Being open-minded is a mindset that rock-solid leaders possess. It’s one of invitation and collaboration, where you are genuinely interested in hearing the ideas and opinions of their employees. While it’s important to ensure focus by adhering to an overarching vision, leaders who welcome the input of their employees are typically the ones who are most respected. Far too many business owners and managers fall short by not asking for ideas and opinions.
Effective Communication – An Essential Element of Leadership
Studies have proven that 85 percent of an individual’s overall career success is directly proportionate to his or her ability to communicate. That doesn’t mean you have to become a public speaker. It means you need to get your message through to people and apply effective communication. Here’s how:
• Be a straight shooter. Your staff should always hear the truth and know that you tell it like it is. They should also know your opinions.
• Practice the “One Minute Manager.” Catch someone doing something good and appreciate them. Catch someone doing something wrong, and correct them in private, never in front of others.
• Avoid miscommunication. Always ask your team if your expectations, instructions, etc., are clear.
• Know how to communicate with people on all levels and ages. Never talk down to anyone.
• Be confident, consistent, and caring. Your employees ?are listening for the attitude behind your words.
• Listen. Don’t worry about trying to express yourself better (you don’t have to be talkative to be a leader). Think instead about asking good questions. Resist the temptation to think about what you want to say in response when carrying on a conversation. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn, and how much better you understand people you thought you understood before. People rightly see leaders as those who understand them, or who make the effort to try to understand them.
• Listening is a function of asking questions. Spend 20 minutes each day talking to individual employees and asking questions similar to those below.
Often, your biggest challenge is time. But taking the time to talk to your staff individually and in teams is important. Your pizza should be perfect, but it is your staff – from your pizza maker to your drivers to your servers – who are developing the reputation of your pizza business.
• Make your pizza place a great place to come to work every day.
• Expect people to make mistakes. No person or team is perfect.
• Focus on what is really important and set priorities. Simplify the business as much as possible.
• Nip problems in the bud
• Reward and recognize employees for great service
• Always know what’s going on in your business and your team
• Set the highest standards for customer service and performance
• Be very clear on what, specifically your employees should be accountable for.
• Involve your team in the creation of “guiding principles” on how you agree to treat customers and each other.
• Do not tolerate underperformers or negative employees
• Never let a day go by where you don’t thank employees, individually and in teams for their hard work.
As you interact with your staff, remember: Dynamic leaders motivate and inspire employees to follow their lead and deliver their best performance. They demand that their managers also practice dynamic leadership, which ultimately improves your businesses bottom line.
Now, ask yourself this question, “Would you want to work for you?
Christine Corelli is a business speaker and author of five business books, including the best-selling “Wake Up and Smell the Competition” and “Capture Your Competitors’ Customers and KEEP Them.” She will give seminars at Pizza Expo 2013 on leadership and how to handle problem employees.
For more details on International Pizza Expo 2013, visit www.pizzaexpo.com.