So, what does ‘Operations Excellence’ mean from a Leadership perspective? For me, Operations Excellence is our ability to create deep customer connections through exceptional employee engagement consistently with a spirit of excellence. Let me share some thoughts in the reverse order: First, spirit of excellence, then employee engagement, and then customer connection because that is the sequence in which I see it getting established . It all begins with a desire to excel at an individual and team level, followed by engagement of employees leading to unique consumer connections that help build exceptional brand loyalty.

Let’s explore it in some detail.        

Excellence is a mindset, it is an attitude, a habit. It is not what we do sometimes, it is who we are. It is the inner calling that each one of us have to be the best that we can be. That is why we recognise excellence in others immediately. For example, when Sachin Tendulkar scores a century or A R Rahman wins the Grammy or when we love Aamir Khan’s performance in ‘3 idiots’—we recognise it in others and get inspired by it. Excellence is our desire to be the best we can be. The challenge is how do we build that spirit in our teams? How can we light this fire within our teams? How do we grow the self-confidence of our teams and help them drive excellence?       

Let me share with you how I see my son’s basketball coach instilling excellence. He believes in excellence and has a simple formula to drive it with the team—break it down/train/focus/recognise. He teaches the team to enjoy the process and the results will follow. He prepares the team for championships by breaking down the skills he wants to build in the team, trains them for it, focusses on just that until it becomes a habit, recognises it and then moves on to the next skill and continues the loop. I have seen him transform the ability and self-belief of the team with this process. Similarly, in organizations, a coach could build self- confidence of teams and drive excellence if he breaks a task down into manageable components, ensure the teams are trained to deliver against each component, focus one component at a time, recognise progress and continue the loop until the entire task is accomplished.          

Next step is employee engagement. Employee engagement is our ability to build a small company mindset in a big company. Small company mindset is that of belonging to a family, it is about treating our employees with compassion and creating a culture of caring as you would do in a family. I believe that the restaurant business is a people’s business and one of the main responsibilities of a leader is to create a culture of trust and caring; a culture where the employees have a clear idea of the mission/vision/goals of the company and have a clear idea of how their own personal goals align with that of the company. It is only in a culture of trust and caring that individuals and teams will be able to unleash their full potential for excellence.          

Finally, consumer connection. A customer mania mindset of Customer=1, a mindset of treating each customer as an individual with specific needs. So, instead of seeing our consumers as a mass, we train our teams to see them as individuals such as a dating couple, family, grandmother and child, executive with specific needs of romance, celebration, bonding. If we are able to then customise our service for each individual consumer and each specific need, we will elevate the consumer experience to the next level. This will happen only if the employees feel truly valued, cared for, have a clear sense of what is expected of them, are trained to execute against this and are rewarded for these behaviours.         

Thus, Operation Excellence to me is developing deep consumer connections through exceptional employee engagement done consistently with a spirit of excellence . If we are able to ignite the genius of excellence in our teams, engage with them as a family and treat each customer as the only 1, we can elevate the execution of our organisations.

Article byNiren Chaudhary, MD, Yum! Restaurants (India)

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