Does Your Business Reward Employee Performance?

five-guys-burger-and-fries2Google “Five Guys Burgers and Fries Articles” and you’ll get 86,300 results. Five Guys is a huge business success and it’s still a family-run business with the mother, father, and five sons in charge. I find it fascinating to read that two key elements of the restaurant chain’s success (a billion in annual sales) relate directly to people issues. You and I can learn from their example.

Reward Employee Performance

First, Five Guys rewards employees liberally for outstanding performance. Rather than spend on marketing or advertising, Five Guys collects 1.5 percent from every franchisee and distributes that money to the work crews who score the highest on weekly third-party audits done by secret shoppers. Crews of five or six people can earn and split an extra $1,000. In one recent year the restaurant paid out $11-12 million in these incentive bonuses. How’s that for motivating employees? Can you do something similar?

Are you rewarding your best performers? Do they earn extra for extraordinary results? Do your employees know you’re evaluating performance and that you actively seek ways to give extra benefits to good workers? This doesn’t have to be costly. It does have to be fair, consistent, and based on business results.

Be Frank But Give Appreciation

The second people issue that’s an element in the success at Five Guys concerns communication. After reviewing several articles about the restaurant chain I found frequent mention of the way the business owners and partners are open and honest with each other. The father and founder, Jerry Murrell, says that every family member is involved and on equal footing when it comes to major decisions. One of the five brothers, Chad, says Jerry doesn’t let any of the Murrells get too high and mighty. Jerry nips jealousies in the bud and reminds the family that no one has to be in the business—that keeps the family members honest. All seven family members have equal ownership shares.

While the openness allows the Murrell family to deal with issues, it does not mean there’s never disagreement. Turmoil happens. Often. But as a family, the Murrells deal with turmoil with an old family antidote—hugs. That strikes me as healthy. You get real issues out on the table, come to resolution, and then you treat each other with kindness and respect even if your particular argument didn’t win the day.

When management and employees feel you listen and know you thoughtfully consider their ideas,  loyalty and productivity grow stronger. Are you open to employee ideas? Do you create an atmosphere where being frank and facing issues head on is encouraged? In the times we live in, you can’t give hugs like the Murrells do but you can always give virtual hugs through showing consideration, appreciation, and acknowledgement to employees.

Think about communication within your company. Does everyone feel like their voice is heard? Are employee ideas considered based not on who presents the idea but on the merit of the idea? Can employees be frank and honest about work issues? Does management treat employees with honesty and consideration?

I know a business teacher who always starts his classes the same way. He says something about how there is more knowledge seated in the room (among the 15-20 students he teaches) than there is knowledge standing in the room (the teacher.) Business owners who acknowledge that their employees know things they don’t and who find ways to encourage constructive business thinking throughout the company are more likely to succeed. Are you one of them?


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