When we took over the management of a restaurant brand, most of the staff were problematic and gave the outgoing manager headache, particularly the cleaners and cooks.
Over ten months after, the same workers are mostly well behaved and improving daily. What changed? Leadership style. We will use a story to explain what we mean.
A few years ago we had a conversation with a restaurant owner who was frustrated by the attitude of her workers. When we inquired to know the grooming process for her employees, she revealed that they were trained by an international expert. We got further information and discovered what the problem was, the workers were trained with the standard template, not bad, but not enough.
These workers live in ghettos and slums. They fight to use the bathroom every morning. They even quarrel to empty their bowels. Then drama with yard people, keke driver, bus conductor that abused them that morning, and the underlying challenges of life they grapple with.
You cannot rework their attitude without addressing the underlying influences of their background. What works in Milan, Madrid, or Copenhagen, will not work the same way in Nigeria. You must adapt to local realities.
So for our restaurant client, we paid close attention to the background and environmental influences on the workers and gradually established a new way of relating to them.
One thing that provided this insight to us was a song by Phil Collins titled “both sides of the story”. In one line of the song, a ghetto kid with a gun grabbed a passerby by the shoulder and asked “would you respect me if I didn’t have this gun?”
We’ve had very personal experiences with three ghettos and could relate to that question, it is the same mindset behind most low cadre employees in businesses. They want to be respected, they want to be heard, they want to know that they matter, they don’t want to be trampled upon, that desire for dignity in humans is also in them.
When next you feel frustrated by your workers, also do a self-evaluation on yourself.
Do you treat them with disdain or respect?
Do you let them talk or you always hush them?
Do you pay attention to where they are coming from or it doesn’t concern you?
Their presence WILL rub off on your brand, it is a guarantee!
This matter is a major hindrance to the transition of many businesses into fabulous brands. You are putting in the effort but workers are messing things up, it is a real struggle and you have to find a way around it if you want to grow. Some of these workers are set in their ways and I advise for such, you work towards easing them out of your system.
We hope these perspectives will enable you to handle your workers better.
A few weeks ago, we spent some time with the CEO of Fifi’s Food House, Onimim Fifi Karibo, at her kitchen hub in the city of Port Harcourt where she treaded us to a three-course meal. While we sat in her office, we noticed her people were at work preparing the meal. At some point, a customer called to order a meal, Fifi was still with us all the while as her people brought the message that the meal was ready. Evidently, she had taught her people how to prepare the meals the same way she does.
About a year ago, Mapemond had multiple training jobs at the same time for various clients. We delegated different team members to each of the training and they all did a great job. One of the training had about a hundred and fifty participants and it was handled by a Staff, not our principal.
Even if you are a one-man business, for now, develop the consciousness of raising others to do what you do because you cannot keep doing it all by yourself and you cannot be everywhere at the same time. Yes, some people you train will disappear without first giving value to the system that raised them, but that is not a valid excuse to not raise others at all.
Some people you train will falter and make mistakes, especially if you have the traits of a perfectionist, but be patient with the grooming process and they will become well-primed. Instead of finding reasons and justification to do it all by yourself all the time, fight those excuses and raise your army unless you are fine with being a one-man business perpetually.
If your dream is to build an amazing brand, you cannot escape building people, against all odds.
Build your people. And trust them with the work.
This is a very important question to ask in customer relations. Some customers (usually a few out of the lot) will be unreasonable, unruly, dishonest, over-demanding and show total disregard for your business terms and processes.
When an incident occurs in your business and you address it with the default mindset of “the customer is always right”, you are likely to end up with a team of disenchanted and unhappy employees.
Particularly, when it has to do with an issue between an employee and a customer, ask “what happened?”. The principle of fairness should not be skewed to the disadvantage of the employees. The more employees know that you will not hear them out, the more customer service issues you will have.
Seek to resolve the concerns of the customer, but do not be unfair and unjust to your employees in your judgment.
Asking “what happened?”, communicates to your employees that you also care about their feelings, dignity, protection, and not just making money.
Imagine that you own a salon and employed someone to help manage it while you focus on your 8-5.
The manager made a request for a dedicated smartphone that will be used for social media management and other communications with customers, but you said no, the manager should use her own phone. You want to avoid the cost of buying a phone.
Customers call the manager’s phone line directly. She takes images with her phone and puts them up on her Whatsapp status to market the salon, they chat with her, and engagement with customers is increasing.
She moves on eventually to another salon and each time your customers call or chats her up, she mentions that she is no longer with your salon but directs them there, most of them insist to use her new salon. They have gotten used to interacting with her and her phone line cannot be passed on to your new manager.
The cost of losing some of your customers is higher than buying a phone that was meant to be an asset to your business.
Employees will definitely have personal interactions with customers, but the business itself should have its own communication channels – Whatsapp, Telegram, Phone Lines, etc – and devices that will remain even when employees move on.
Take your communication channels seriously.
Poor work ethic and culture is a major challenge that businesses silently grapple with, whether remotely or in the workplace. It even tends to turn some employers into very mean people.
Workers show up late at work, drag feet to get things done, hardly reply to emails, fail at deliverables repeatedly, some keep making excuses to travel for one occasion or the other at the expense of the organization, and so on.
As much as it is important to be flexible as an employer, it is more important that you don’t unknowingly indulge the fundamental problem of poor work culture.
You need to design guidelines and processes that will help workers improve their work ethic and discipline over time and those who are unwilling to improve should be eased out.
If you create penalties for late coming and other issues, follow through with implementing those penalties so that your people don’t take your systems and processes for granted.
At a restaurant brand we manage, one staff had the habit of always making something different from what the client ordered thereby wasting resources. We implemented the penalty of salary deduction for two months to replace the materials that were wasted. He does not repeat the mistake any more.
You may be scared of losing those who really know the job, but indulging a bad attitude to work will cost your business greater harm eventually.
Be fair but also be firm.
We listen keenly to business owners as they vent their frustration about the marketing team not raking in revenue as expected.
We engage them further in the conversation and it turns out that the business itself doesn’t have a clearly defined marketing strategy or plan.
They pass the buck to the marketing team to take initiative, forgetting employees can throw in the towel anytime, if they get too overwhelmed, but you are stuck with the business.
The business MUST have all its strategies in place, what employees are primarily engaged for is the execution since the business owner cannot possibly do everything by themselves.
If you leave your responsibility to employees, then you have to take what you see. Set targets to the high heavens, folks will keep exiting one after the other. Firing and re-hiring won’t help much until the actual issue is fixed. Think strategy.
What is your marketing and sales strategy for 2020?
We are here if you need support.
The best relationships are not necessarily the ones without squabbles and disputes, but the ones where the partners can address the issues graciously and carry on beautifully with the relationship.
They understand that other issues will come along the way, but they maintain the same disposition in addressing the issues, not to tear down, but to understand themselves better and to keep building.
They experience fights, disappointments, hurts, pain, anger, tears, and much more, but they never shut the door against healing, forgiveness, tolerance, and peace, so long as the partners involved have a mutual understanding.
Business relationships are not immune from issues, some can be resolved and others will slip through. Some broken business relationships can be rebuilt if only we set ego aside and make that call.
We are training employees of an airline from today and our mission is to help them deal better with the frustrations they feel in trying to serve customers better.
Customers are humans.
Co-workers are humans.
Managers are humans.
You are human.
Customer relationships, handling complaints and all that can be better handled if we first zoom into human relationships.
We can build truly global brands from Africa.
One of the most valuable things you can do for your organization is to seek honest feedback from your team. There is a treasure of insights lying untapped within your team, but the wall between you and them does not let them share.
You have your ears closed and they have their lips sealed.
It should not be so.
Maybe you think this does not apply to you, but are you sure your team has been honest with their feedback and opinions?
Your brand just may survive longer if employees share their reservations.
You could double profits or increase productivity if you create ways to hear their opinions.
Seek team feedback. It is free and does not change your status as Boss.
If you need an external person to help handle such a process, reach us via email@example.com
Building profitable and reputable brands is what we love doing.
The quality of people involved with a brand from the founder to the management team, team members/employees will ultimately shape what the brand becomes.
What you can do.
a) Work on yourself. Don’t be an obstinate entrepreneur or executive. Provide quality leadership. We helped a client recruit and onboard a team of smart young people but they are ALL on the verge of exiting because the Boss makes the work environment very toxic.
b) Profile your desired team. Determine the kind of team you want to build and the kind of persons who will best fit into the team in terms of experience, character and all other essential qualities.
c) Position your brand rightly. Put the necessary things in place to attract, onboard, and retain the right persons for the brand. Your brand should also be appealing and inspiring to employees, not just customers. Sell your brand to the people you want to build it.
d) Provide growth opportunities. If the quality of your team will grow, then you must take training and growth seriously. You can organize in-house training and also engage external trainers. Give responsibilities to team members, so they can learn and grow.
e) Provide mentorship. If you are a small business or startup, chances are that most of your people will be millennials. For you to get the best out of them, you have to mentor them and help them navigate their path to success.
f) Set guidelines. Decide the direction you want for the brand and set the guidelines for every team member to align. Everything that matters to the brand and cannot be compromised, spell it out clearly.
This is why as a brand consulting agency, we also work closely with Clients on talent recruitment and development. We work with a lot of young people and in the process, we prime them for whatever brand they may get involved with.
Building profitable and reputable BRANDS is what we love doing. Let’s help you build yours.
More lessons coming on what makes a solid brand.