Managing people and change even at a leading fast food restaurant chain

Today I had an interesting conversation with a front of house member of staff from a newly refurbished fast food restaurant.

Whilst drinking my coffee she approached and asked me if I liked the new layout, what I thought about the automation and did I prefer it to the old restaurant? Before I could reply, she began to give me a detailed insight into her own feelings about the changes:

“The staff were consulted and asked for their opinions but management didn’t listen and just carried on regardless.

“The automated system is causing unnecessary delays and customers are frustrated waiting in queues. The new kitchen area and the new digital screens that separates the kitchen from the restaurant, is leaving customers feeling detached and cut off.

“My colleagues and I don’t like it, but I suppose it’s progress!

“I’ll leave you to it now, so enjoy your day,” the lady concluded.

I hadn’t said a word but I was left in no doubt that the staff and team dynamics in this outlet were under strain to say the least. The lesson is that here is an example of an employee completely disengaged with her employer and the business they run. She feels that she’s not valued or listened to. She feels that the customer experience has been made worse by the changes. She feels disenchanted and she’s now crossing the line by telling the customers the same.

In any organisation, the most important asset is its people and if you lose them on the journey, then you risk losing your biggest USP. They are not always right and may have opinions that are not consistent with yours, but they deserve to be taken seriously, listened to and valued.

If you agree to disagree they must understand the reasons for change and subscribe to the values that underpin the brand; if they don’t that same negative tone and language will filter right the way through to the customers that will eventually dictate the future success of your business.

So, get your people on board with your values and make sure they understand the reasons for change and how it impacts upon them.  If you encourage input, then take it seriously and provide positive feedback against any concerns or suggestions made.

Ultimately their buy in is critical to the change process and the overall success of the brand in any red ocean market place.


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