Accountability Taste Great

“The economy is down.” “The weather has been terrible.” “There is so much competition.” “Times are different.” We’ve all heard them before, one excuse after anther. We’re masters at making excuses to justify and rationalize poor results and even average results. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

How does a restaurant in a highly competitive market post a 22% profit margin in an industry that considers 5% a good result? Accountability.

How does a restaurant, that pays higher than industry average wages, provides a employer match 401K plan, profit-sharing bonus plan for kitchen staff and management, full health and dental insurance and sick leave, post those kinds of profits in a typically low margin high turnover industry? The owner of Zazie, a San Francisco French bistro, Jennifer Pialiat values her people and her people know it.

They know it not by what she says, but by what she does. Jennifer is accountable to her team. Jennifer, the 2010 “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year – San Francisco” recipient, understands that you succeed or fail based on the people around you. Most leaders will acknowledge that fact but most leaders don’t take the necessary steps to actually live that concept through accountability to their people.

Accountability is keeping your commitments to people. Some of those commitments are spoken like, “I will pay you every Friday for the hours you worked that week.” Other commitments are unspoken; “I will value you as a human being. I know you have a family and health insurance is just as important to a dishwasher as a corporate executive. Your retirement fund is important to you just as mine is to me and I will honor that. I want to see you succeed.”

When you create an environment where people feel valued, where you are accountable to your team, they will want to be accountable to you. When you actually treat people like they are important and not just replaceable pieces of equipment then they are naturally engaged in what they do, want to work harder, deliver at their very best for you and productivity goes up. And, your team will not want to leave. In an industry known for extremely high employee turnover Zazie has a dishwasher who has been working there for over 20 years!

When asked if she could make more money by not offering all those benefits and incurring those costs Jennifer’s response was that she didn’t think that she could. Her lack of turnover, the effectiveness of experienced employees and low training expenses add greatly to her patrons’ dining experience and to the bottom line.

When you are accountable to your people, when you truly value them and your actions align with those beliefs, you create a culture in your organization where you don’t have to tell people to be accountable. They will want to be accountable.


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