The Answer is an Absolute “Yes!”
As an American who has grown accustomed to a fast paced life and the need for fast food, I’ve also developed my expectations for the service I’ll receive in these fast food restaurants. I know that the employees who work in these establishments are paid very little. I know that many of the employees view this as a temporary job. I know that most of the front line staff work there for one purpose only; to make money. This is how I justify the poor customer service I’ve grown accustomed to. It never surprises me to deal with seemingly grumpy staff, to rarely receive a friendly smile or even eye contact, and more often than not, to have my order be wrong. Despite this, I keep going back for more.
Our last two blogs have focused on viewing the business environment as an ecosystem. So, if we are saying that managers can create this ecosystem, is it possible to create a friendly and engaged environment at a fast food restaurant? The answer is an absolute “YES!” As an example, there is a Chick Fil A in Edgewater Maryland. The manager here must deal with the same elements that other managers of fast food restaurants must deal with. That is, the difficulty in recruiting quality people, the low pay, the attitude of this job being temporary, and the fact that the front line employees rarely have a purpose in working there other than a pay check. Yet this particular manager has created a friendly and engaged environment. I go there more often than I care to admit. Every single time, consistently, I am greeted with enthusiasm, a smile, an attitude that says “what can I do to help you?” and always a very friendly “thank you.” I always feel that my business there is appreciated. This manager has created an engaged work environment and it is noticeable to every customer.
Environments are created. Cultures grow. No matter your workforce, no matter your industry, it is possible to create a positive environment. Examine your hiring practices, reward practices, performance management systems, communication habits, expectations, and goals. Examine all the ways you and the business impact employees. It takes time and patience, but with some determination, you can begin to change the work environment and allow desired culture to grow.