Over the last month I have been experiencing what I term, “one legged man in a butt kicking contest” syndrome. If you don’t recognize the syndrome from the pictured visual suffice it to say, more work than time but no reduction in results required by the powers that be……

As I continue to focus on development and teaching restaurant managers to become highly effective I found that my recent training initiatives were not producing results comparable to the expectation of the training. Why the gap? Mull it over, mull it over, mull it over…when all else fails go talk to the people you are working with to produce the change and ask them why they aren’t executing the way you hope. Quickly they will clarify why you aren’t near as smart as you think you are…..

So I have a conversation with a General Manager, their Kitchen Manager, and me. I ask everyone the same question without revealing their answers to each other. The question, “How do you measure the success of the Kitchen Manager position?”

I answer my own question first with:
Company leading food cost
Perfect plate presentations
Immaculate kitchen
Fully trained staff
Quick Meal delivery

The General Manager answers:
Strong work ethic
Know the job….?

The Kitchen Manager answers:
High Energy
Support the GM in all initiatives and needs
Get it done mentality

Uh oh…..We aren’t aligned. I am developing training and accountabilities based on achieving success in what I believe is the job. The GM is rewarding and coaching based on what they believe is the job and the KM is driving based on what they think is the job.

It is an old version of the telephone game. I say something and by the time it gets to the last person in the chain, it is completely different than what I delivered. Whose fault is this? Mine! I got so caught up in my training process that I forgot to align the training and communication to the outcomes.

Solution – we all sat down, aligned the description to be the same to all of us, clarified the expectations, and began the training again. Voila, miraculously the results are coming in faster than I could hope.

Sometimes I am just an idiot….make me feel better and please tell me you have made this mistake before…..

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Tags: Swingley, leadership, restaurant, training


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Comment by Mark Frank on April 3, 2009 at 9:05am

It’s difficult to add much in the way of new thinking here since you’ve already received solid feedback. There is only one point I would make that with the specific training program your company uses. It seems to me as a former trainer that the specific requirement of the position would be spelled out in training material and since with most training program there is a restaurant level component the failure here is not only in communications, but also in basic teaching (perhaps even a glitch in the formal materials themselves). I would follow up here too.

At the least, assuming materials, classes are solid and I imagine they are, my question would be why the manager has adopted such a hands-off approach and also why he is not using training materials as a guide in developing his staff. There is one other point here and that is with just a little imagination here the manager and K.M. are not that far off and so perhaps both are speedily heading west looking for a sunrise.

Thanks as always for an excellent and stimulating Blog. I always like the fact that you are so growth oriented and that you possess such high levels of introspection.

Comment by Jeff Crook on April 3, 2009 at 7:32am
Great stuff Andy! Been there, done that and still doing that. I have to remind myself every day that each time I communicate anything to my team I have to validate that they are hearing what I am saying and understanding what I am wanting. Too many times there is a disconnect and if I don't there is confusion on both sides. Thanks for your awesome insight and awareness.
Comment by Andy Swingley on April 2, 2009 at 3:32pm
Aliecia...have I told you how lucky I am to have you on the team! What a crystal clear description of the dilution in training that occurs

Thanks Craig, you are right, making an assumption about what someone understands is a death nail also

I hear ya Debra...if all else fails old school "talking to" never seems to fail!

Bill, but wait...a leader be vulnerable and admit they might not always be right...who you kiddin'??? That can't happen and still maintain your ego...oh, wait, ego isn't a good thing... :)

Thanks Erle!

Specifically what are you saying Sean! LOL! Thanks as always for your feedback...when you are ready to move to Ohio would you look me up. I don't know if you heard or not, Bob Fenzel has moved to Ohio and is training to work with me again. I was wondering if I could get you and Fromson to come back and we could "ride" again? Ohio isn't really as cold as the news would lead you to believe! Hug Amy for me would ya!
Comment by Sean Moloney on April 2, 2009 at 1:37pm
Absolutely!! Not only have made the mistake, but have repeated it time and time again! It is as Bill says "specificity and follow up", followed with Erle's "communication". Vision is painted by actions and our follow up. I have always found that the "phone game" is always fun. Great thoughts as always Andy!!
Comment by Erle Dardick on April 2, 2009 at 9:30am
Isn't life just like that? Communication is key to any successful relationship. Thanks Andy, and yes, I too have made this error time and time again. Working on ways of making it better.

Comment by Bill Campion on April 2, 2009 at 9:09am
Dude are you kidding? I raised my hand when you asked if there was anyone out there who has made that mistake. I guess specificity and follow up is what it's all about. What I love about you are constantly re-evaluating and learning. This is a journey and of course it's never perfect. The leaders who take the time to assess their effectiveness are the ones who learn, grow and improve. The mis-step is not what matters it's what you do to rebound from that makes a difference. You have obviously made a difference in this particular situation. Thanks for sharing Andy. You Da Bomb!
Comment by Amanda Hite on April 2, 2009 at 5:01am
good message... great learnings...

Comment by Craig Pendleton on April 1, 2009 at 8:45pm
Flashback.....been there, done that.

Wear the other persons hat for a second.

How many reviews did you sit through as a young manager in development when you thought that a great review and a raise were both slam-dunks and instead you received a mediocre review and no raise.

The gap you are referring to is the gap between your expectations and the results of others.

How to close the gap:
- establish goals that are specific and measurable
- give frequent feedback to avoid surprises
- have the supervised employee repeat back to you verbally what the expectations are.

Dangerous is the meeting when the discussion follows with your presented thoughts (specific expectations) and then questions to the receiving party that sound like ("do you understand what I mean?"). The best test of understanding is an open-ended question that cannot be answered with a yes, no, grunt or an "uhuh". Once the employee reiterates the information you know you are starting on the same page with clear expectations.

Still to follow is the difficult task of arriving at the desired results, but at least everyone is clear as to your expectations.
Comment by Aliecia Shields on April 1, 2009 at 8:28pm
I use the "telephone game" descroption ALOT.... in fact I just used it yesterday talking to Ricky about thermocouple usage. We all learn our jobs, for the most part, from the person who trains us. They tell us what they think is improtant for us to know and may leave out some of the things the person who trained them taught them. When we train the next person we choose what we think is important for them to know and along the way we all delete "unimportant" information.
When I was trained as a server, for example, I was taught about 10 point station checks happening 4 times a day.... when you come in for your shift and at the end of it. The next person I trained I told them about it but did not put much emphasis on the importance of it. That next person trained somebody else and glazed over it so that person trained someone else and didn't even mention it during training. There goes the telephone game.
Ricky asked me if 407 was really good at using thermocouples and I answered honestly..... no. I bet when 409 opened the cooks temped everything but, along the way we got away from it. Now it is our responsibilty to find the things we got away from and, instead of passing it down the line and relying on others to relay it, focus on it, make it a requirement and not let others take away from the importance of it.




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