Friday, May 2, 2014

Chipotle: Success, Individually and Company-wide

In 2005, the US company underwent a transformation that would make its culture as distinct as its food. As more than 1,000 stores opened across the US, the company focused on creating a system where promoting managers from within would create a feedback loop of better, more motivated employees. That year, about 20% of the company’s managers had been promoted from within. Last year, nearly 86% of salaried managers and 96% of hourly managers were the result of internal promotions.
People love Chipotle to an almost cult-like degree. Apparently the taste of some good guac transcends age, hobbies, and socioeconomic status. They've got a good thing going, and Max Nisen's article at Quartz shows it isn't a fluke: it starts from within.

There are obvious benefits from hiring outside a company - sometimes an outsider is simply the best person for the job, and sometimes he or she can be a breath of fresh air - but there's a lot to be said about hiring from within as well. If you're not looking to completely reinvent the wheel (or, at the very least, implement a new business strategy), internal hires make sense: they know how things work, they're entrenched in the culture and ostensibly are a good fit, and there's less of a curve in terms of general acclimation to the company.

Chipotle, though, has hit on another key in motivation. As evidenced by the quote above, someone working at Chipotle, if they stick it out, has a pretty good chance at making moves. The company has outlined a very clear path for success and promotion. They've incentivized training and managerial skills, and it's part of a self-fulfilling cycle. Train others well and not only does the store benefit in terms of better workers and a better customer experience, but you also benefit in the form of promotions and financial rewards, and you're (in theory) cultivating a new group of workers who well then go on to train, and so on.

When you take the ambiguity out of what a person has to do to get ahead, it allows them to just focus on doing those things. Working in a restaurant, especially one that could be classified as "fast food," it can be tough to look at it as anything more than a shift and a paycheck. By plotting out a clear path it becomes more of a career, and that can make it all that more fulfilling. Plus, it might just be good for business: "Since its IPO in 2006, Chipotle’s growth has been exceptional. Sales have increased from $826 million that year to $3.2 billion last year. And the company had 9.3% growth in comparable store sales last quarter, which is remarkable for a 21-year-old company that hasn’t raised prices recently."

I'd say it's worth a shot.
via Quartz

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