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View transcript

Restaurant chain is a winner for a dinner.

Restaurant chain is a winner for a dinner

In one of the final Sunday Times restaurant reviews he wrote before he died, ex-film director and bon vivant Michael Winner wrote: 'People often ask, "What's the worst meal you've ever had?" It used to take me a while to choose. Now I can answer in a second.'

Magnificently over-the-top in almost everything he wrote, Winner defined teamwork in another of his reviews as 'a lot of people doing as I say'.

Of course, that's hardly a great recipe for running a successful restaurant. Just ask the owners of Baldrige-award-winning K&N Management.

Ken Schiller and Brian Nolen founded the restaurant group in Austin, Texas, 20 years ago, on the principle of pursuing excellence. The company - owner of the Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q Austin franchises and creator of Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes - strives to delight its customers through the professionalism of its 500 employees, the quality of its products and the atmosphere at its establishments.

In the November issue of Global Business and Organizational Excellence, Allyson L. Young says: 'Recognizing that the food business is a people business, its leaders count customer delight with every interaction, and careful staff selection, training and development among the most critical ingredients in their recipe for success.'

The company itself attributes its success to concept design, operational excellence and a focus of meeting and exceeding key customer requirements. 'We consistently deliver high-quality product, served quickly and accurately by friendly team members,' it says. 'Our excellent operations create a great financial return, which benefits our stakeholders and the community. Applying the Baldrige criteria and systematically evaluating and improving our approaches are critical to our success.'

In the December issue of Quality Progress, Carlotta S. Walker explains that a high-performance, quality-orientated workforce is the key to creating sustainable competitive advantage for any organization in any sector. It is particularly important, though, in the dynamic environment of fast-food restaurants.

She highlights two main ways in which leaders can improve employee involvement and so increase engagement and reduce employee 'churn'. The first is to make employees an integral part of the decision-making process. The second is to empower employees to make decisions when addressing customer complaints.

In the April issue of Financial Executive, Scott Edinger reveals other ways in which senior people in an organization - particularly those working in finance - can improve the engagement and performance of the teams within it. They include: recognizing that manufacturing employees have personal needs, desires, goals and their own way of working that require attention in order to sustain performance; bringing energy and inspiration to work; focusing on the development of team members; connecting the big picture of organizational strategy and goals to the details of each job; representing the finance function well in other parts of the organization, and externally; placing great importance on reciprocal trust; working out the best form of communication for a given set of circumstances; and understanding the technical elements of the organization's work and bringing innovative solutions to its problems.

'The higher an executive climbs in an organization, the more important is his or her ability to lead and inspire its people,' Scott Edinger concludes. 'There are obviously nuances in leading different functions, but the basic principles of how leadership drives engagement remain a constant among many other variables.'