Team Building Exercise

9 for nurturing a high performance team

Desi Williamson has led a diverse career as a corporate sales and marketing executive, entrepreneur, motivational coach for the Minnesota Vikings, and now owner. In 2010, he opened three Dickey's Barbecue restaurants in Minneapolis. Desi's Impact!! Restaurant Group, LLC is providing jobs for people in the community and planning to expand to ten locations in the next five years. His restaurants are topping the list of fastest-growing locations within the Dickey's franchise system and Williamson believes the most important factor in their success (and the success of any business) is their people.

Below are some of the keys that have allowed Williamson's franchises to grow in an environment that's supposedly the worst in decades to start a business, especially a restaurant:

  1. Establish Your People Profile - What kind of people are you looking for? It's important to have a profile of the qualities of the people you want on your team and hire to that standard. Even with the best screening process, a few may slip through the cracks, but your standard is always your guiding force.
  2. Share the Vision - Let people know exactly what's expected of them and how their performance affects the bigger picture. Williamson shares corporate goals, sales, cost, and profit numbers with his team so they know exactly where they stand and why performing to standards is imperative.
  3. Provide Consistent Feedback - Make sure to provide positive feedback whenever possible and when desired results are not achieved, he says, remember to be hard on the problem, but soft on the person. This is where coaching opportunities arise.
  4. Ask for Feedback - Prolific leaders understand that some of the best ideas come from people who are closest to the customer. Williamson says to ask your team, "How am I doing as your leader?" What barriers can I remove and resources can I provide to help us better serve our guest and help you reach your potential?
  5. Provide a Learning Environment for New Skills - Cross train whenever possible to help your team gain new insight, skills, and an appreciation for other functions of the business. This will allow your business to gain greater cooperation and bench strength, as you expand your enterprise.
  6. Empower Your People - Once people have been properly trained, give them the latitude to act within their area of competence in order to better serve your customers. When mistakes are made, provide coaching so that better decisions are made when you aren't there and new leaders are developed.
  7. Show Real Interest in People - One of the best ways to gain commitment from people is to find out what interests them personally and show them how working with your organization can help them achieve it.
  8. Reward Success - Make sure to acknowledge and reward desired performance, even when successes are small. Williamson says now that he has three his managers are conducting contests between the stores regarding key measures and reward the stores that perform best. This creates a fun environment where team members rally to compete. One of the most powerful predictors of future success is past achievement.
  9. Create a Compelling Workplace - Lighten up! Provide an environment where people can enjoy coming to work and the process of high achievement. This will ensure an authentic commitment, rather than just compliance.

Regardless of circumstances or conditions, there will be many success stories written over the coming months and years. The organizations that succeed will extract opportunities from what appears to be dire situations and continue to find ways to fill niches in un-served or under-served markets. Remember to "Act Local" and build a great team dedicated to providing the ultimate customer experience.

Desi Williamson is an inspirational speaker and the author of Where There's a Way: Succeeding in the Face of Turbulent Times. (Used with permission from Desi Williamson:

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