Q What is the role of an Operator at Chick-fil-A, and what are some of the challenges that an Operator faces?
Phil Operators are selected and are independent contractors for Chick-fil-A. We have some leverage with what they do, but they operate very independent from us. Growth opportunities for the operator can be an additional restaurant. Opportunities come as performance is monitored and the Operators are counseled and supported by the Business Consultants.
Scott As independent contractors, they are the CEOs of their organizations. The contractor is the president of marketing, the president of human resources, and the president of operations. They are responsible wholly for their restaurant. You can imagine, being in the position, they have to deal with a lot of different people; they have to delegate a lot of responsibilities out. They have to provide insights and direction for all types of people. They are dealing with folks from high school aged team members on up to senior citizens. When youre in a fast paced environment, dealing with 30 or 40 employees at a time, there are limited time constraints for being able to have some real effective opportunities to coach and counsel their team members.
Q What are some specific coaching skills issues that your Operators face?
Phil Its a challenge to ease off some focus on the present, and be more responsible for the future. As that relates to coaching skills, it allows the Operators to work on the development of their own people to be more responsible for what is going on in the present so that they can focus more of their time on what is going on in the future.
Scott One [issue] is always the lack of performance. We have quality requirements, so theres an opportunity to work through. People may not follow procedures for a lot of different reasons. I think that the coaching model allows an Operator to work through each situation by defining the task or issue. There are a lot of opportunities to help a team member understand the value of the requirements and why theyre there. CMOEs coaching skills model allows great opportunity for dialog. The person who is being coached feels more that its an opportunity for learning and development rather than punishment.
Q Can you give me a specific example of the Coaching Skills model working?
Phil I think as a manager and director of people, you need everything you can get. Certain steps of the Coaching Skills model affect people differently. I think what is does is it gives you a lot of different behaviors, some of which will work more successfully with some people than others. I found overall Im more effective when I use the Coaching Skills model completely because one of the steps in the model will generally have an impact on most everyone.
Scott I recently had a store become available, and I had four Operators ask for this location. So this model gave me a very effective process to go through and almost interview them to help them understand. Its not just something that I can say yes, youre qualified or no, youre not qualified. Its just given me a great process so that when we get through, the two of us feel good about the outcome or the decision thats been made.
Q What is the one thing that you would tell workshop participants before sending them out the door?
Phil I would say that they dont need to hide this. They should openly use the Coaching Skills Model. Apply it to every situation you can. I think you can be real open with this, whether it is for performance improvement or starting a project, or whatever.
Scott They need to seek out every opportunity they can to use the model. And more importantly, use the individual behaviors or skills associated with that model. Use it in as many opportunities as you can. Its just like a muscle, you know youve got to use it or lose it. It is probably the most powerful tool of influence that Ive found, and its just because of the questions that I ask. First, it comes across that I really care, and second, Im asking very insightful questions that are important to the issue and Im not providing all of the answers. When I ask those questions, it either engages them emotionally or intellectually. Its like you grab their heat or their head. It invokes emotion or thought. When you sit down and take somebody through that process, its just a very healthy process to follow and it just gets powerful results.
Q It sounds like youre telling me that effective Coaching Skills is not just something you do, its something you become?
Scott Yes. That is the deal. You know, I have a very strong desire to become good at what we understand is coaching (skills). I kind of equate it with focusing on results and focusing on the relationship. We all want to get results, but I never want to get results at the expense of sacrificing the relationship. But if I spend all my energy on the relationship and not focus on results, well be the best friends in the world, but neither one of us will be very effective. Both are important in the process.