The critical impact visits

“Don’t just make an appearance. Make a difference”

Jim Sullivan

Perhaps the most crucial discipline in our operational excellence model, is the one where the rubber meets the road; the time when all the analysis and planning needs to lead to action and, hopefully, a positive impact on people and performance.

The fourth operational discipline is focused on ensuring that the time the multi-unit manager spends onsite with their team, is maximised and focused on developing people. It was Zig Zigler who said; “You don’t build a business. You build people, and people build the business.” This is perhaps never truer for a multi-unit manager than when they’re onsite with their teams and, arguably, their capacity to influence others is at its greatest.

But before we get on to how the visit time should be maximised, let’s take a moment to consider how often the multi-unit manager should even be visiting their sites?

Like most things to do with management and leadership, one size rarely fits all. Therefore, the view that a multi-unit manager must visit each of their sites once every four weeks or so, is not one that we subscribe to, at least not unless there’s good, analytical reasons for that visit frequency. As it happens, this is where disciplines two (the period review) and three (proactive planning) really come into play.

Applying rigour to these disciplines means effectively analysing the sites based on their current performance, focusing both on issues to mitigate as well as opportunities to exploit (i.e. making good even better). The size of the problem (or opportunity), the complexity of the solutions and actions to take, and the capabilities of the manager and their team; all these factors should be considered when answering the question; “how often do I need to visit that site?” and “how long should I be there for?”

The action plan developed in discipline three may need little support from the multi-unit manager to implement or it might need considerable involvement to execute effectively. The answers that result from our two key questions (“how often” and “how long?”) should in turn help the multi-unit manager to design their schedule for the week and month ahead. No outstanding multi-unit manager wakes up on a Monday morning wondering where they should visit this week.

With the site action plans for the month (or even the quarter) ahead, the multi-unit manager should therefore have an area plan that ultimately drives their schedule for the week and the month ahead.

Their schedule allows them to frequently visit those managers who need more support, whilst giving space to confident and competent managers to get on with the delivery of their plans with less input and direction. Every visit provides multi-unit managers with the opportunity to review progress made with the site’s action plan and offer support, as relevant, to remove any roadblocks.

These visits are about reviewing each aspect of a balanced operation, with emphasis on the customer and employee experience.  Armed with the mindset of making someone’s job easier today, effective multi-unit managers can leave their locations in a better place than when they arrived. Perhaps by helping managers to work through a problem or identifying areas of good practice to be shared with other managers across their region.

The best multi-unit managers go beyond just reviewing the brand standards or progress with the action plan, even though it’s critical for them to identify trends where implementation is slipping.

Outstanding multi-unit managers also treat these visits as a coaching opportunity. Designed to build manager’s leadership capabilities through better problem solving, rather than waiting for the answers. The role of the multi-unit manager is to ask better questions; a core coaching skill that’s too important to leave to chance. They should always be looking for opportunities to catch people doing something right and show genuine appreciation and recognition.

Indeed, the very best multi-unit managers understand that their critical impact visits are just that; an opportunity to develop their people, provide feedback to redirect performance or behaviour that’s off-base and recognise their efforts and reinforce successes.

Read part one about non-negotiable standards, part two about period reviews and part three about getting proactive with planning.

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Mastering the Operational Disciplines

To find out more about the operational disciplines please download our free guide, Mastering the Operational Disciplines.