How can I maintain standards at all times even when I am not present?

03 August 2006
How can I maintain standards at all times even when I am not present?
When I'm with my staff, they perform really well, but as soon as I'm away, standards slip. I own more than one outlet, so how can I maintain standards at all times even when I am not present?

Patricia Thomas, Domino's Pizza
A well-trained, motivated manager is key to being a successful multi-unit operator. But even with that in place, you can still have inconsistencies among your operations.

There are three keys to maintaining high standards in all your outlets:

  • Define your standards in writing and make sure they are clearly communicated to everyone. Most performance problems stem from inconsistent direction or poor understanding of expectations. Make sure that you clearly communicate a consistent written message.
  • Train your team to deliver on standards. Make sure everyone is told what is required and demonstrates the ability to deliver on expectations. Provide them with tools to maintain standards, such as check lists, photos and posters. If someone fails to meet standards, ask if it was a misunderstanding or whether they did it intentionally.
  • Inspect what's important, and incentivise results. Identify what is vital to your operation and establish an inspection process that will ensure standards are met. Most inspections should be random and unannounced. Create recognition and incentive programmes to reward great performance. Most people want to perform well, and failure to do so often comes down to a disconnection between managers and the team member on what makes a good job.

At Domino's Pizza, we use random audits. The connection between audit performance and sales growth is well established, which is why our best multi-unit operators use this system in-store on a weekly basis.

Defining your standards, training your team and inspecting performance will allow you to make the most of your time and talent.

Carol Ann Guilford, HR Solutions You should review your current staff and put in more of a hierarchy so that, when you are absent, someone delegates and manages the outlets.

Before you select this person, you need to ensure a fair selection by advertising the position, allowing anyone to apply. You may feel you need to advertise externally as well.

It may be that you have someone who is a supervisor or a more senior employee already, and this would be an obvious promotion for them. You can then provide this person with a revised job description outlining their responsibilities, which would include ensuring that standards and best practice are maintained during your absence.

This will obviously include ensuring that this person has clarity on what the expected standards are, what you expect them to do to ensure these are maintained, and what they must do if they have any concerns - such as contacting you.

This may involve identifying their ability to manage, and providing coaching, mentoring or formal training.

If you haven't done so already, I'd also put in some sort of performance reviews, where you can discuss performance and again clearly explain the expected standards.

Obviously, if things do not improve, you will need to identify why - by discussing this with the person you delegated to, and even discussing with the other staff what their thoughts are, so that you can consider any suggestions and improvements they put forward.

Jane Sunley, LearnPurple

  • Do you have the right people in place? Check your recruitment process. It's important that people have written job descriptions. Ensure your selection process is robust. Ask situational questions, such as: "How would you ensure standards didn't drop if I was away?" Take up references. If possible, have your preferred candidates in for a trial. Make it clear from the outset what will be expected.
  • Do they have the right skills and attitude? Regularly assess your existing people and ensure they receive the development and guidance they need.
  • Have they been given responsibility? Ensure people are clear about what is expected, "where the buck stops" and how performance will be measured. If you run multiple outlets, have clear, simple, achievable written standards of performance. Make sure you delegate to a specific manager to ensure someone holds overall responsibility. Or, in a flat structure, make each person responsible for a certain area so that they are answerable.
  • Are they motivated to deliver? "What's in it for me?" Find out what makes your people tick. This might be about reward, incentives, recognition, pride or work-life balance. Make it clear that, if they deliver, you will do the same for them.
  • Are you managing performance? Once people are clear about what is required and committed to delivering it, put a simple system in place so your teams can assess their own performance. Coach them to put things right if targets aren't met and standards fall. You might identify "champions" who will encourage others, mentor new people or underperformers, and take part in shadowing and job swaps to spread good practice.

Be nice to them, communicate with them and make sure they have fun.

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