How does your culture make people feel?

By Carrie Luxem

If you were setting foot into your own business for the very first time, how would you feel? Not only as a patron, but as an employee?

Would you feel welcomed? Rushed? Comfortable? Anxious? Excited?

What we’re trying to pinpoint here is the culture that exists in your business. Even though it’s one of the most frequently used buzzwords in the industry today, it’s still incredibly relevant.

The culture that you create within the walls of your establishment and among your employees is linked directly to your success.

So if you need to define your culture – or how about we call it vibe instead? – you can figure that out rather quickly with our method below.

Know Who You Are…Today

Do you know who you are?

Who you are as the owner, but also who – or what – your business is?

Admittedly, it might sound somewhat nonsensical to think of your establishment like a living, breathing creature. But it truly is – each business has its own characteristics, nuances, and of course, vibe.

So, first and foremost, owners need to know who they are. That means, they understand and identify:

  • Their own personal characteristics (good and bad)
  • Their personal challenges and obstacles
  • Their values
  • What they want employees to value
  • How their restaurant or retail concept is unique or different
  • The challenges and obstacles the business is facing
  • What the current vibe of the business is

A quick note about how values tie into culture: Values are how people act and culture is a direct result of that. So think very carefully about the values you hold high.

Now, if you write out all of the answers to the questions above, do you like what you see there in black and white? Does the current vibe match up with the intended vibe?

Are you living up to the values that you hold dear? Does your unique concept work with or against the vibe you’ve created?

In looking at those answers, if you’re not quite where you want to be, there’s still time to get back on track .

Remember: Culture is unique to each business.

No two owners are the same; as strengths, weaknesses, and concepts are identified, owners will invariably go in different directions with their company culture.

Just think about all the restaurants you’ve ever visited. There’s a definite vibe associated with each one, right?

Like at the family-owned Greek restaurant down the street, where you feel so welcomed and relaxed – almost like you’re sitting down at your grandma’s house for dinner.

Or the sandwich shop you stop at once a week, where the owner asks how your daughter’s dance recital went. And you ask her how her ill mother is coping with treatments.

These places have focused their efforts on creating a specific vibe, starting with their values, and trickling down to their staff, food, décor, and relationships with their customers.

In other words, they remembered the most effective step to nurturing a lasting, memorable culture: They LIVE it. Because culture is who you truly are and the actions you take, not just who you say you are.

Looking Ahead to Tomorrow

Once owners fully understand where they are today, they can begin to define and create a road map for where they want to go and how they’re going to get there.

And that’s where all those other buzzwords like mission, vision, and purpose come into play. We’ll discuss those in the weeks to come, as well as the step-by-step process to get you there faster…and with more success.

In the meantime, now that you’ve defined your businesse’s vibe, know that it won’t be perfect going forward. It will require a constant refocusing, but the end result is most certainly attainable. And worth it!

Carrie Luxem is the founder and President of Restaurant HR Group, a full-service HR group based in Chicago, IL. Carrie will be sharing her wisdom from over 15 years in restaurant human resources through guest-posts on the Homebase blog.

Want some HR help? See Homebase can make it easy by visiting our HR and Compliance page.

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