Don’t let your ship sink to mediocrity
Death by a thousand cuts is a form of torture and execution originating from Imperial China. But it’s also a term used to describe the way a major negative change can happen slowly, in many unnoticed increments that are not necessarily perceived as objectionable as they are occurring.
Often, just like daily shift changes, there’s that short gap of time where the team and company drop their guard. The heightened awareness on high standards shrinks backward as we enjoy the relief from the crushing busy shifts, days and weeks.
Take a look at the monthly deep-cleaning we schedule to keep our facilities clean, attractive and sanitary. Part of the cleaning includes staff removing those nasty gum-wads that magically appear underneath the table tops. The employee gets on his or her hands and knees with a flashlight and paint spatula in hand. After the third table the worker tires of fooling with them. In their mind that little voice tempts them: “This table is the one our guests like the least for seating. Business has been slow, so why bother. No one will notice.”
So they skip that table and move on to other duties. “No big deal,” the employee thinks. And sure enough, the managers are checking out the cleaning list with the staff. Together they check the first few tables. The managers think silently to themselves: “That’s enough to check. We’re in the slow period of the year so no need to check all of the tables.”
Like carbon monoxide, “death by 1,000 small cuts” begins to seep in. Quietly. Staff and managers drop the standards on your brand culture, pride and public presence. From then on, it’s that slight, gradual downward slide into mediocrity. The team’s focus on high standards gently floats out of reach.
Call on your key players, those “influencers” on your hourly team. Huddle with them to explain how valuable they are in maintaining and sustaining the company’s winning culture. Highlight three target areas in which you’d like to see their visible support. It could be cleaning, or greeting guests or being on time for their shifts. Pick common standards that apply to your everyday operation. Standards that both the managers and leaders can recognize daily.
Stroll through your restaurant. Do you see the details being missed? Take your managers and team leaders on a tour. Ask them to point out the drops in standards that have will ultimately become a “death by 1,000 cuts.”