Guiding Decisions and Behaviors – The Refectory and Company Culture
How does a restaurant earn AAA four stars for 16 consecutive years? The Refectory is the most award-winning restaurant in Columbus and has received Zagat, DiRoNa and Wine Spectator Awards, along with Five Stars from both Columbus Monthly and Columbus Dispatch. Housed in a former church, it is known for its ambiance, excellent food, massive wine cellar, and stellar service. This is a place you celebrate the events that memories are made of – anniversaries, birthdays, closing the big deals. The Refectory is a brand that consistently delivers on its brand promise.
In a conversation with owner Kamal Boulos about the Refectory’s culture, he reflected on “who we have become and the thinking that drives myself and the two key people who have shared this journey with me for the last 35 years.” That team has done a lot of things right, from always being there to greet customers to giving back to the community and celebrating the achievements of community leaders. Like many small business owners, Kamal has focused on achieving excellence every day and only recently realized the importance of articulating the purpose and values that will sustain the business when the founders move on. He realizes that they will serve as a compass that guides decisions and behaviors.
“The first step was articulating them, and we are engaged in Step Two, which is communicating them to everyone.” Next, he will define behaviors associated with each value and weave those into performance standards. Kamal shared his five core values, which are “a work in progress”, inspired by Nancy Kramer’s Resource Interactive culture:
- Pursue Excellence (in every area – our knowledge, how we apply it, work ethic, attention to detail, attitude, maturity and mindset)
- Treat Everyone with Respect (if we want others to accept us for who we are, we must first accept them. We can disagree with others without showing disrespect)
- Be a Person of Integrity (be honest in relationships; resolve issues only with those directly involved)
- Be a Giver (to those we work with, to those we serve, to our community, and to those we do business with)
- Care! (about yourself, your family, those we work with, those we serve, the company we work for and the equipment/resources we use.)
We did not discuss Kamal’s mission and vision, but I saw this vision statement from Bali Intercontinental Hotel that is memorable and actionable.
There are some great resources for businesses interested in doing the work Kamal is doing. My favorite is Jim Collins’ vision framework and I also like Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why and his Why University, which guides you through the process. It is extremely difficult and time consuming to do this work in a vacuum – a trained facilitator is recommended for objectivity, open dialogue and building consensus. If you want to put your toe in the water, have your management team start with taking the Companies Are People, Too organizational personality assessment.