I stopped at one of my favorite spots early one morning recently before my first client meeting. That happened to be the Chick-Fil-A in Brookfield, CT. You might know the owner-operator, Devon Scanlon, from our Small Business As Usual podcast 19-1 or her participation in our Women’s Business Success conference.
What I noticed on the wall that I hadn’t seen in previous visits was a framed whiteboard with inscriptions from 26 of her employees. Devon later told me the idea was just an inspiration they came up with locally last November to recognize the season of being thankful. They loved the result so much they decided to post it in the dining room.
If you study the messages, you find some touching expressions of the staff member’s appreciation of working on a great team, finding a second family, making friends and memories and being able to work toward greatness. Some talked about being thankful for vital life lessons, or the chance to better themselves and work toward owning a business. Others mentioned a vibrant atmosphere, great attitudes and an awesome environment.
Reading these genuine messages, I was even more impressed than I already had been with Devon’s operation (and the chain in general, which I have previously mentioned in these articles). But I saw something else, an implicit challenge awaiting any small business owner who dares to find out – What would the employees of your business say if given the chance?
Would they pour out similar sentiments? Would the invitation be greeted with polite silence and ignored?
There are probably other ways to test the engagement and cohesiveness of an organization. And to be clear, although great leadership is required to build a great culture, the expressions didn’t mention the boss. Co-workers can certainly be devoted to each other while hating the boss. But I don’t think that’s the case in Brookfield.
If you’re looking for a checklist to evaluate your business culture, here’s a good list to start with.
— Frederick Welk
CEDF Business Advisor