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The Right People, Vision Make the Perfect Brew

Kevin Finn, Founder and Chairman, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

Founded Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in 1996 along with partners Kevin Davies and Mark Edelson and has grown to 19 restaurants in 5 states. Graduate of the University of Delaware’s MBA program and was named to the Lerner “Fabulous 50” as one of the top 50 graduates during the first 50 years of the program. Graduated with a BS in Manufacturing Engineering from Boston University. Member of Vistage from 2005 to 2015, an organization that provides CEO leadership training, coaching and an advisory board.

Mission/Value Statements That Guide Your Company

Your vision, mission, values and culture drive everything that you do and need to be understood throughout your organization. I like to use the analogy of climbing a mountain. The vision is to get to the top. Your mission defines what you are going to do to get there, what path you are going to take. Your values define what you can, and more importantly what you can’t, do along the way.

Balanced Scorecard: Tying Values to Metrics

Once we had a vision and mission statement, we defined our core values. It is easy to measure financial metrics, but we tied success to our three core values: People, Products and Profits. I tend to be an analytical person and we tied metrics to these values. For example, for people we did an employee survey twice a year and this was a tool to evaluate our restaurant culture.

Better Than a Job Description

Rather than using a traditional job description we created a Success Factor Snapshot (SFS) for each position. It helps to narrow the focus on outcomes instead of duties. It is used to evaluate performance in the job or used for the interview process and hiring and makes coaching a lot easier to stay focused with the end in mind.

Successful Coaching Using 121s

Our 121 (or one-to-one) process was incorporated into the overall coaching and performance management system. We used the SFS to develop action steps that could be reviewed in 121 sessions for progress against goals to ensure success. These sessions would be used to drive annual performance review.

Finding and Identifying High-Performers

Instead of using a traditional job description which focuses on qualifications, we changed the focus to outcomes. Our feeling was that top performers were more interested in jobs where they understood what success looks like.

Stay Focused Using a One-Page Business Plan

The business planning process often ends once the plan is complete. Months are spent developing a multi-page plan that ends up on the shelf. We simplified our plan to include our vision and key specific strategic goals for this year and lists activities associated along with goal champions and due dates. The goals trickled down to the Success Factor Snapshot of team members.

Remove Roadblocks Using AM Check In

We created short meetings (10 minutes or less) every morning with key personnel on a very regular basis to remove any roadblocks that exist quickly. It was used to communicate the schedule for upcoming days and if there are any roadblocks for you accomplishing your goals for the week.

Better Communications Using Personality Assessments

A personality assessment tool is used to improve work productivity, teamwork, leadership, sales, and communication. For Iron Hill, it created a common language that can be used to determine how to communicate and deal with conflict through adaptive behaviors. All salaried employees went through the assessment. The supervisor is given a profile to aid in coaching and development.

Find ways to recognize your employees

Employee recognition goes a long way. By recognizing your team when they do a good job, you reinforce what they are doing. I tried to visit one restaurant per week and recognize one of our staff for outstanding customer service. I also wrote personal notes. Both went a long way to creating a great culture.

Take Time For Yourself

I believe it is very important to make time for yourself during your busy, hectic work weeks. I know in my case that if I did not exercise for a couple days, I would get cranky, so I made sure that I made exercise a priority and scheduled it during the week. For you it might be exercise, meditation, a walk or just time to read the news. But it is important to set aside that time each week, making it a priority.

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