Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

Written by Rachael Skinner

January 27, 2017

In restaurants, culture eats strategy for breakfast.

In his talk at the 2016 Multi Unit Food Service Operators Conference, Jim Sullivan from included a section about company culture. He maintains that culture should be made a priority by business leaders, and that it even supersedes business strategy when it comes to maintaining a healthy and productive working environment.

The Employee Trifecta

There are three factors that define employee performance: engagement, motivation, and happiness. When an employee finds the “sweet spot,” or a working environment that balances these three components, they typically perform at their best.

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

The Results Pyramid

Jim also highlighted a ‘results pyramid’ that leaders can use to illustrate a pathway to success. According to the model, experiences foster beliefs, beliefs influence actions, and actions determine results.

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

Three Examples

Leaders should focus on changing their team’s beliefs and experiences, because it is their beliefs, experience and actions that create culture. To illustrate this point, Jim presented the following scenario: there’s a restaurant with three managers. One of the managers is disengaged and moody, another is actively disengaged and argumentative, while the third is actively engaged and loves the brand. Depending on when they work, an employee working any given shift could be faced with 3 wildly different managerial attitudes toward the brand. This would affect employees’ beliefs and experiences, which would determine their “actions” and eventually their working results, making the customer experience inconsistent.

Build Culture = Grow Business

By using models such as these, restaurant leaders can establish a cultural paradigm that creates a productive, effective and comfortable working environment for their employees, which, in turn, lends opportunity for business growth and success. While business strategy remains important, it can only contribute to company goals and objectives when employees are performing at optimum levels – something only great culture can provide.

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