It’s My Pleasure by Dee Ann Turner. Elevate. 160 pages. 2015
When you go into a Chick Fil-A quick service restaurant anywhere in the country you will not be greeted with replies of “No Problem” or “No Worries” from their employees. No, you will always be greeted with “It’s My Pleasure”. What a difference that is! It’s an organizational culture that drives this difference, and it’s why Chick Fil-A is always spoken of so highly by leadership experts such as Patrick Lencioni and Ken Blanchard. And it’s also why Chick Fil-A is probably the organization I most highly respect. In this book, Dee Ann Turner, who has worked for Chick Fil-A for more than 30 years, gives us an entertaining look at several of the components that make up that compelling culture.
Turner tells us that Chick Fil-A is not in the chicken business, but the people business. Selling chicken is just a means for glorifying God. She tells us that founder Truett Cathy practiced servant leadership (before it was such a trend to do so) and led according to biblical principles, including their “Second Mile Service” from Matthew 5). Chick Fil-A uses the SERVE leadership model (which I learned about years ago in Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller’s fine book The Secret).
Their Core Values tell you a lot about the organization. They are excellence, generosity, integrity and loyalty. They have a culture that is about loving life together. Their purpose for existence is stewardship and a positive influence on people’s lives. All Chick Fil-A restaurants continue Truett Cathy’s leadership model by being closed on Sundays. Chick Fil-A continues to be a privately owned organization as well. The organization, based in the Atlanta area, was founded in 1946 and has more than 2,000 restaurants.
An important aspect of the Chick Fil-A culture is their hiring process. They are diligent about making sure that they select the right people for their organization. They select based on character, competency and chemistry. In selecting leaders, Dee Ann writes that a good question to ask is “Would you want your children to work for this person?” Their stringent selection processes help result in their low employee and leadership turnover rates.
When discussing the stewardship of Chick Fil-A’s leaders, I liked how they use and honor their seasoned, or older/more experienced leaders, as that describes me. Too often older leaders are not as respected as they should be. Not at Chick Fil-A.
I agree with her that saying “No” when it needs to be said, even in employment and promotional decisions, is actually the kind thing to do. Other topics that I particularly enjoyed was the author’s comments about calling and servant leadership.
The author liberally uses real-life stories from the organization to illustrate her points. I enjoyed hearing stories about generosity, creating remarkable experiences for their customers (treating customers like friends and family, their “First 100” events at new stores, and “Daddy/Daughter Date Nights”.
Chick Fil-A is much more than just another quick service restaurant. They truly stand for something (think of their core values). I hope with this book, other organizations will learn from Chick Fil-A, particularly with respect to excellence and integrity.
People who love Chick Fil-A, including me, are very loyal to them. To see a humorous depiction of this, check out Tim Hawkin’s “Chick Fil-A song”, to the tune of the Beatles “Yesterday”.