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Practice Makes Perfect

One day I was in a Popeyes restaurant observing a busy lunch hour in a high volume restaurant. Despite the flood of urgent, hungry guests, the crew in this restaurant was getting the food out, on time and with a smile.

It was like watching an orchestra perform a great symphony. Everyone seemed to have the same expectations (the music). Everyone knew their role (the instrument). The leader was quietly helping them work together (the conductor), and there was no question about it, they had practiced for this performance.

“It is easy to play any musical instrument – all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.”
~ J.S. Bach

When I asked the restaurant manager how the team remained so calm during a busy lunch hour, she quickly said, “we had a plan; we are prepared.”

What a gift this leader gives to her team. At the beginning of the week, she looks ahead to see what they need to accomplish. She forecasts the sales, orders the ingredients, schedules the people for each shift, and checks to see that she has a trained professional in every position.

Then each day she comes in early, reviews the plan for the people and the food preparation. She checks in with each team member to ensure they are ready for the day. She removes obstacles that could cause them to stumble. She gives encouraging words, so that they have confidence for the busy day ahead.

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
~ John Wooden

Preparation and practice are gifts that a leader gives to their team. The leader anticipates what is required. They give the team the expectations, the coaching, the encouragement they need to be ready. The leader knows that both skills and attitude must be trained ahead of time. There is no way to get ready to serve the guest well if the team is unprepared when the doors open.

The basketball coach John Wooden was famous for the high performance teams that he assembled, and he often spoke of the importance of preparation in building a great team.

At the start of every season, he brought the team together and began the workout by teaching everyone to tie their shoe laces the same way. It was his way of demonstrating the importance of being prepared for the big game. It was his way of teaching the team that we are all in this together. It was his way of establishing the equal importance of every member of the team, preparing humble hearts to compete for the team win.

If your team is not performing up to your expectations, the first stop is to take a look in the mirror. What have you done to get yourself prepared for leadership? What have you done to help your team be ready for the big event? Does everyone know what is expected? Has everyone trained well for their particular role?

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