How to Get Your Employees to do Exactly What You Want

A Slice of the PieHow do you get your employees to do exactly what you want? You learn from Nick Sarillo, author of A Slice of the Pie and owner of Nick’s Pizza and Pub, the sixth busiest independent pizza company in per-store sales in the United States.

I am fortunate to have Nick as a community neighbor and am personally familiar with the incredible job he has done supporting the local community, garnering unprecedented guest loyalty in the process. What I didn’t know until reading the book is the exceptional leader he is, and the phenomenal amount of work and strategy that goes into making the “Nick’s Experience” a true stand-out in the industry.

Purpose, Values, Moments of Magic and a Permeating Culture

The answer to the question of how you get your employees to do exactly what you want is simple but not easy; with each step critical and, generally speaking, poorly executed by most leaders and companies. In the book Nick does an exceptional job of providing guidance on each step:

1. You start by getting clear about what you want. This is actually the hardest step for many leaders!

What is your higher purpose for your business that you are leading? What is it that you and your team are creating that is your reason for being? That you’re wholly committed to? You need to know this in your soul so you can communicate it to your team and live it each and every day. Nick and his team are wholly committed to “The Nick’s Experience,” which they define as, “Our dedicated family provides this community an unforgettable place; to connect with your family and friends, to have fun, and to feel at home!”

2. You communicate that higher purpose to everyone, and commit to it incessantly.

As Nick has learned, the more you do this, the more your employees genuinely live it and exude it naturally in their behaviors. He gives very clear advice on how to do this in the book!

3. You determine and live by the Values that serve as the supporting structure to attain your higher purpose.

You, as the leader, become the steward of these Values. Your job is to live them 100%, each and every day, and to ensure that employees are held fully accountable to them. No exceptions. Nick does a masterful job of laying out a process for creating true organizational values that the entire company can rally around.

4. You tell employees exactly which behaviors you expect them to demonstrate as they live the Values.

This is the key that so many overlook – telling your employees exactly what it will look like when they are performing in a way that exudes the Values of the organization. Nick and his team created what they call “Moments of Magic.” These are clear, behavioral expectations that every team member is held accountable for performing, knowing that as the team executes these behaviors they create an experience full of magical moments:

  • Greet everyone you see within five steps of you
  • Greet everyone you see entering and exiting the restaurant
  • Answer the phone within three rings
  • Subjecting all behavior to the “Grandma Test” (Would she approve of what you’re doing/wearing, etc…?)

Having clearly defined “Moments of Magic” behaviors creates clarity in the organization…which is priceless!

5. You create a culture that rewards the above and permeates your employees’ life experience.

I love this example of one brilliant way Nick has created this: “We give team members Moment of Magic cards to hand out to others in the community when they see positive, helpful, altruistic behavior that’s consistent with the Nick’s Experience; printed on the card is a coupon for a free appetizer. On a superficial level, we’re giving prospective guests an incentive to try our restaurant while simultaneously empowering even the most junior team member to build sales. More deeply, we’re showing the community that we care about behavior victories, so that they become more frequent. Guess what? Our community appreciates the gesture! And they show their appreciation by becoming loyal guests.”

So, how do I know that what Nick has created is truly exceptional? Because in the depths of the recession he faced bankruptcy and did something most business leaders would never have the courage to do: he asked his customers to help him save his business. And save his business they did! The loyalty of his customers and community is simply astounding, and provides so many lessons for us as leaders. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any leader looking to take their business to an entirely new level in 2013!


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  1. Lisa,
    Great information here. As I read more about companies that “get it” culture has everything to do with profit driving and morale boosting. This is a great commentary on the kinds of shift in the workplace that can and will impact the bottom-line without dis-empowering either rank or file. @judymartin8
    Judy Martin (@judymartin8)´s last blog post ..Being Fearless at Work in a Mindful Way

    • Thank you so much, Judy! I agree wholeheartedly with you – a stand-out culture is a true competitive advantage. Nick has done a masterful job in creating a culture that stands out, not only in his field, but in the entire community!

  2. What I sense here from Nick is his deepest level of commitment to his team and business. All too often leadership is only displayed for convenience sake. True leadership runs deep and permeates everything. Great story and one of course I am sharing with everyone :)
    Jonathan Saar´s last blog post ..The Precalculus versus the 2+2 Method to Business

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  4. wonderful post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do
    not understand this. You must proceed your writing.

    I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!
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