SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The “chief people officer” at the company that owns Chili's restaurants said companies need a small number of clear goals, communicated to every employee.
“Accountabilty begins with clearly defined results. Without clearly defined results, you're going to have confusion,” Tony Bridwell said in a keynote speech Sept. 17 at the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division. But, he said: "A culture of accountability will drive results.”
Bridwell began working with Dallas-based Brinker International in 2008, as a consultant. He joined Brinker full time in 2013. The company owns Chili's and Maggiano's Little Italy, casual dining restaurants that employ 15,000 people at 1,600 restaurants around the world.
The restaurants use half a billion rigid containers a year — a windfall for thermoforming. But Bridwell's fast-paced message, as he roamed through the audience, was honing a company's strategy, not plastics processing.
The restaurant industry faced a huge challenge as recession took hold in 2008 and 2009. “All of a sudden people stopped eating out,” he said. Suddenly, business executives got interested in an idea they had brushed off for years: culture.
Bridwell said accountability is linked to culture, not job skills, the common definition. "We have tried to bullet point our way to success" with job descriptions that amount to a checklist, he said.
He recommended developing three to four clearly defined results — such as sales gains or quality improvements. The key, he said, is being able to measure the results and get everyone involved.
"A clearly defined result needs to be communicated to every single employee,” Bridwell said.