I don’t get to watch television as much as I used to but when I do I have a tendency to watch shows that I don’t have to think about too much. American Pickers or Pawn Stars come to mind. What I really enjoy are the shows where a team of experts come in and help someone or some company with a problem. One that I am surprised I have enjoyed watching is Bar Rescue on Spike TV.
Bar Rescue stars John Taffer, who is owner of a bar/nightclub consulting firm. His company has flipped or owned over 800 establishments over the past three decades. Taffer brings his professional expertise to desperately failing bars to save them from closing.
During one of the shows, the son of the owner, who was also the manager, got mad about the criticism that Taffer was giving him during the first night. The son stormed off and locked himself into the office leaving his staff to fend for themselves.
It was then that it hit me. The show Bar Rescue doesn’t just show us the before and after of a bar transformation. It is really showing us the stages of team development. The team in this situation being the bar owners and employees as well as Taffer and his experts.
After an undercover stakeout of a bar, Taffer will show up unannounced and start his critique of operations. He meets the owners and staff and he introduces his experts. This is where the team is forming. No one is quite sure what is expected but they are ready for anything.
The next day the staff is introduced to better ways of doing their jobs. New drink and food items are introduced and how to prepare them properly are practiced. Customer service and efficiencies are stressed.
When night comes, the bar is put through a “stress test.” A large crowd of patrons are invited and the staff is judged at how well they perform with the new menus and efficiencies. This is when the storming phase happens. Employees fail and get fired, owners wonder if they did the right thing, drama ensues. This was when the manager locked himself in his office.
Taffer goes over the results of the stress test with owners and staff. Most times everyone realizes that changes need to be made. The team comes together and physical changes take place at the bar, usually including changing the bar name. This is the norming phase. In the case of the manager I mentioned, he came around to everyones way of thinking. He apologized to the staff and became a supporter of the change that was happening.
At the end of the show you can see the bar employees performing as a team. Owners have saved their business, employees are feeling more valued and empowered. It is usually a great experience for everyone. In most cased the bars are thriving months after John Taffer and his team leave.
So why all this talk about rescuing a bar on a Wood Badge site? If you have been on the course you probably recognize that what the bar owners and employees are experiencing are very similar to what your patrol went through during the six days of the course.
For those of you who have not been on course, the stages of team development is just one of the things we teach you. It happens at work, it happens in your unit, and in your scouts patrol. Understanding why things are happening in certain ways on your team can be an important part of the self-evaluation process as you become a high performing team.
If you haven’t signed up for Wood Badge, I encourage you to do so. While the focus of the course is on scouting, the skills you will learn will help you as a scout leader and as a leader at work. You may not need to save your business like the people on Bar Rescue, but you and your employees will certainly work better as a team.