by Lawrence J. J. Leonard
Let’s look at this situation and see if we can use it to help us measure success. Here is a common scenario. It will either be a recipe that is fit for a righteous celebration or a tactical party pooper.
These are our Success Cake people ingredients: The Group Leader, who manages the Kitchen; a stable of Culinary Professionals; the order from our important customer is a request for a Success Cake. Not just one cake, but a Success Cake from each of the Culinary Professionals. The Success Cake must be made according to the established Kitchen recipe.
These are our Success Cake work ingredients: Dedication, punctuality, teamwork, individual effort, leadership, best practices, meetings, feedback, output, improvements, and, of course, failure. Why? Failure in the past is what helps us remember what to avoid and what to prevent.
These are our Success Cake measurements: sufficiently increased brand awareness (chocolate), higher revenues (two layers), and an enlarged customer base (royal icing). If we can meet all three of these criteria, then aren’t we just doing our jobs?
We work together in a kitchen with Culinary Professionals whose experience ranges from a few months in this kitchen, but years in others, to professionals with many years in this kitchen and no other locations. What happens if there is an ingredient missing?
Someone left the cake out in the rain . . .
How do we act or react when our Group Leader suddenly decides that “no special time” will be given to the Culinary Professionals? We don’t need help to make a cake or have our hand held through the process. Do we? This is OUR KITCHEN. However, the Group Leader says that kitchens are all the same: stove, oven, pans, sink, and pantry. Right? The Group Leader is just too busy with corporate responsibilities to “babysit” anyone. “But, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me,” the Group Leader tells us.
There is an obvious missing ingredient here!
Every Group Leader plans to fail when team members are expected to accomplish an objective and are told that no feedback is coming. A Group Leader must give explicit instructions on WHAT to do to get from point A to point B for every objective until they all understand. This may take a whole year. It may take a few months. This is the best way to set expectations.
A TRUE Group Leader recognizes the REALITY that EVERYONE in the Kitchen is ALSO undergoing a culture change. Finding the “right mix” of acculturation between team members takes thought and effort. Encouraging the Culinary Professionals to help each other will cause them to think like a team. This is a job satisfaction intangible for employees.
We are adult learners!!! Everyone has a different way to learn AND a different slope in their learning curve.
The Group Leader tells us that we have failed because we are not integrating with the team like we aught. Failed because we are struggling to produce perfection, as determined by the Master Chef’s (CEO) version of it. We now feel as if we have failed because we are being constantly corrected. If we only had that missing ingredient. (Okay, I will reveal it at the end.)
This does NOT mean that we are failures! Understanding why our team members are failing is ALSO part of the learning process, especially for this kitchen. Knowing that the Group Leader is invested in our failures as a means to improve is a job satisfaction intangible for employees.
Failure can be a good thing
According to Lolly Daskal, president and CEO of Lead From Within, failure is a reason to investigate. Look for what went wrong, rather than who is to blame. Investigation helps us determine whether there was a lack of information or training.
She also says failure is a reason to learn. If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. When you take risks, you learn that there will be times when you succeed and times when you fail, and both are equally important.
You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
Every Group Leader plans to fail when s/he is dependent upon email for the main communication method. This, of course, is why email is so alluring. Email means we don’t have to interact with anyone up-close and personal and that makes us feel “squishy.“
Look at what happened to Chick-fil-A. An email to their Chick-fil-A One members, a frequent customer program, invited them to order and enjoy a sandwich at their locations on November 3, also known as National Sandwich Day (not an official holiday). Except, this year we know that November 3 fell on a Sunday. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays.
This email was followed by a second email apologizing for the error: “The cows sometimes get over-eager on their quest for self-preservation. They have been reminded that Sundays are off-limits.”
Sooooo, is there a better way to interact with thousands of customers??? Well, yes. Any number of the members in the leadership team could have posted a very short video expressing their great pleasure in celebrating “National Sandwich Day.” The production team most certainly would have discovered the date error on the first pass of the script.
Apparently, Popeyes, the spicier chicken food restaurant, had something to say about the gaffe. too.
Can you see the INHERENT VALUE for a Group Leader to conduct daily face-to-face conversations with internal stakeholders? This is a job satisfaction intangible for employees. It is way more effective than the power of (electronic) delegation.
That takes the cake (measurement)
Everyone makes mistakes.
Everyone should NOT make mistakes.
No fail, no success. Know fail? Know success!
We are not failures because we fail. A Group Leader needs to understand that progress demands failed attempts. The Group Leader is THE EXAMPLE for encouraging trial and error. Failed attempts motivate future brand champions who learn best practices, but only if the Group Leader is driven to cultivate a group of professionals who grow stronger as a team and encouraging them to make mistakes, then get better at their work.
If you are ever asked to make a success cake, don’t forget to add the missing ingredient: improvement. If we cultivate a working environment where improvement is encouraged, we will become more successful. This is how we measure success. No matter how many times we fail in our trials, our attempts should measure out to “one more attempt.” Then, we can work out the improvements, and once more, be successful and not make the same mistakes of the past.
Remember, we are only human, after all.
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