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When I graduated, I realized I wanted to work for a mom and pop, not a mass franchised corporation. I wanted to work somewhere where I had a voice and could avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and controls for the sake of pushing numbers on a report sheet. I now realize that organizational health is possible in any size business, its just typically easier to execute in smaller ones. This single piece of knowledge can actually allow the small businesses to take on the large ones. Small businesses can pivot faster and can work out different strategies on a rapid basis without having to do national company roll outs. This month we are going to take a look at organizational health.

Behind financials, organizational health is the main factor contributing to the success and failure of your business. And, because it ties into the financials, it can be the most important control for the success of your company. But what is organizational health and how can you improve it?

Organizational health represents the overall health of a company through the relationships, knowledge, cooperation, and insight of its managers and employees. In other words do your employees work together towards a common goal?

In companies with great organizational health, the managers all agree on one main goal for the company. Every department does what they can to ensure this goal is met, even if it means sacrificing the interests of that particular department. Everyone in the company sees the greater good in total business growth over that of temporary departmental growth at the expense of the total business strategy.

In a restaurant this means harmony and cooperation between the hosts, servers, bartenders, kitchen staff, and managers. It sounds impossible for a number of restaurants, but I assure you it is not only possible, but it is imperative that you figure out how to achieve it. Don’t worry I am here to help.

As more and more restaurants and bars continue to emerge, those with the best organizational health will be the ones that rise above the competition. Let’s look at two companies.

Company A – The kitchen manager, bar manager, and restaurant manager meet daily to discuss any concerns in service or execution from the day before, discuss customer comment cards, and agree on the daily objectives. Weekly they meet with ownership to discuss the direction of the week, evaluate where they are in comparison to quarterly goals, discuss employee successes for the week and bring up issues that may be addressed. The bar manager talks about a server that continues to ring in doubles incorrectly. All managers agree the employee needs to be corrected and the restaurant manager schedules a time to speak with the employee. After discussing an increase in overcooked steaks, the kitchen manager leaves the meeting with a focus on ensuring steak temperatures are correct, and the restaurant manager leaves with a focus on ensuring food is ran faster from the window so that steaks don’t continue to cook under the heat lamps.

Company B – The bar and kitchen manager meet on a Wednesday afternoon. The restaurant manager is not in attendance because she is off that day. The bar manager talks about a server that continues to ring in doubles incorrectly. The kitchen manager agrees that it should be addressed. They make a note to discuss that with the restaurant manager. Neither the bar manager nor kitchen manager is assigned the task and each thinks the other will talk to the restaurant manager about the issue so it isn’t addressed with her. Accordingly, one of the bartenders yells at the problem server on a busy Friday night after a double is mistakenly rang in incorrectly again. The server yells back, but starts ringing in the doubles correctly from then forward. Problem solved. The restaurant manager argues with the kitchen manager on Saturday evening about overcooked steaks complaining that “this keeps happening!” The kitchen manager blames it on the food runner not running the food fast enough.

Which company are you? Which company would you want to be? Which company has the competitive advantage?

In our next article, we will start to implement the steps to improve the organizational health of your restaurant.