Coaching Skills Does Matter At Chick-fil-A

In this discussion, we talk about Coaching Skills with Phil Orazi, Dean of Chick-fil-A University and Scott Mayson, Business Consultant with Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, Georgia.Q - What is the role of an Operator at Chick-fil-A, and what are some of the challenges that an Operator faces?

Phil - Operators are selected and are independent contractors for Chick-fil-A. We have some leverage with what they do, but they operate very independent from us. Growth opportunities for the operator can be an additional restaurant. Opportunities come as performance is monitored and the Operators are counseled and supported by the Business Consultants.

Scott - As independent contractors, they are the CEOs of their organizations. The contractor is the president of marketing, the president of human resources, and the president of operations. They are responsible wholly for their restaurant. You can imagine, being in the position, they have to deal with a lot of different people; they have to delegate a lot of responsibilities out. They have to provide insights and direction for all types of people. They are dealing with folks from high school aged team members on up to senior citizens. When you're in a fast paced environment, dealing with 30 or 40 employees at a time, there are limited time constraints for being able to have some real effective opportunities to coach and counsel their team members. Q - What are some specific coaching skills issues that your Operators face?

Phil - It's a challenge to ease off some focus on the present, and be more responsible for the future. As that relates to coaching skills, it allows the Operators to work on the development of their own people to be more responsible for what is going on in the present so that they can focus more of their time on what is going on in the future.

Scott - One [issue] is always the lack of performance. We have quality requirements, so there's an opportunity to work through. People may not follow procedures for a lot of different reasons. I think that the coaching model allows an Operator to work through each situation by defining the task or issue. There are a lot of opportunities to help a team member understand the value of the requirements and why they're there. CMOE's coaching skills model allows great opportunity for dialog. The person who is being coached feels more that it's an opportunity for learning and development rather than punishment.Q - Can you give me a specific example of the Coaching Skills model working?

Phil - I think as a manager and director of people, you need everything you can get. Certain steps of the Coaching Skills model affect people differently. I think what is does is it gives you a lot of different behaviors, some of which will work more successfully with some people than others. I found overall I'm more effective when I use the Coaching Skills model completely because one of the steps in the model will generally have an impact on most everyone.

Scott - I recently had a store become available, and I had four Operators ask for this location. So this model gave me a very effective process to go through and almost interview them to help them understand. It's not just something that I can say "yes, you're qualified" or "no, you're not qualified." It's just given me a great process so that when we get through, the two of us feel good about the outcome or the decision that's been made.Q - What is the one thing that you would tell workshop participants before sending them out the door?

Phil - I would say that they don't need to hide this. They should openly use the Coaching Skills Model. Apply it to every situation you can. I think you can be real open with this, whether it is for performance improvement or starting a project, or whatever.

Scott - They need to seek out every opportunity they can to use the model. And more importantly, use the individual behaviors or skills associated with that model. Use it in as many opportunities as you can. It's just like a muscle, you know you've got to use it or lose it. It is probably the most powerful tool of influence that I've found, and it's just because of the questions that I ask. First, it comes across that I really care, and second, I'm asking very insightful questions that are important to the issue and I'm not providing all of the answers. When I ask those questions, it either engages them emotionally or intellectually. It's like you grab their heat or their head. It invokes emotion or thought. When you sit down and take somebody through that process, it's just a very healthy process to follow and it just gets powerful results.Q - It sounds like you're telling me that effective Coaching Skills is not just something you do, it's something you become?

Scott - Yes. That is the deal. You know, I have a very strong desire to become good at what we understand is coaching (skills). I kind of equate it with focusing on results and focusing on the relationship. We all want to get results, but I never want to get results at the expense of sacrificing the relationship. But if I spend all my energy on the relationship and not focus on results, we'll be the best friends in the world, but neither one of us will be very effective. Both are important in the process.

If you would like to learn more information about CMOE's coaching skills program and the success we have had in your industry, please contact a Regional Manager at (801) 569-3444 or visit their website.

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