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by David Sloan | May 10, 2016
No matter the industry, business owners will always run into the struggle of identifying best practices for motivating employees and hiring the best people to carry out the vision of the brand. At Naf Naf Grill, a restaurant chain offering authentic Middle Eastern food, where I am the co-CEO, our overall business approach revolves around one concept: The Naf Love. From the outside, the term may only seem like a phrase our executives use to say they care about their brand. But on the inside, the "Naf Love" serves as the cornerstone our restaurant is built upon. We use the term to describe the love and passion we pour into our food, customers, and employees. Taking time and care in cooking our food and treating customers with respect are key, but giving employees the tools, drive, and motivation to succeed may be the most important thing.

Both Sahar Sander -- Naf Naf Grill's cofounder -- and I make it a point to let existing employees and new hires know how valuable they are to the restaurant. This helps build a solid, cohesive culture throughout the company. One way we do this is by interviewing and talking with each new individual we bring on board, regardless of their role in the business. This includes everyone from corporate executives to hourly cashiers. We want every employee to know he or she is valued and has a chance to grow his or her career within the company. We would much rather promote from within than hire people from the outside.

Companies should always consider promoting from within because it allows the culture to revolve around employee opportunity and growth -- this is where our Naf Love concept comes into play. When employees see that a company looks to its own for open positions, it motivates him or her to work hard and focus on the messages the brand desires to deliver. Both the employer and the employee directly benefit from this strategy. When you promote from within, the business is operated by people who truly believe in what you're trying to do, while furthering their own careers at the same time. 

You have to build a team-minded environment each day and make sure your employees know it is a top priority to see them grow professionally. Nothing in the business world makes me prouder than seeing one of my employees start as a cashier or a dishwasher and work his or her way up to restaurant general manager or regional manager, something which is not uncommon at our restaurants. 

Another benefit of promoting from within is that you truly get to know who drives the operation on a daily basis. You see how hard employees work and learn about their strengths and weaknesses. When you get to know an employee, you build a level of trust that is reinforced over time. This bond is difficult to forge from just a few interviews with someone outside of the business.

After you establish your company culture and a level of employee trust, the end result is a staff full of dedicated individuals and a seemingly endless internal pipeline of talent. When employees see that business executives are more interested in watching their workers succeed and grow, it motivates them to pour even more passion and desire into making the business take off. Everyone at Naf Naf knows that our mission is to help make people successful while having a ton of fun at the same time. It is extremely important to measure success not just by dollars earned but also by how many people within the company are thriving and flourishing.

David Sloan is the co-CEO of Naf Naf Grill. With more than two decades of executive-level business experience, Sloan and Naf Naf Grill co-founder Sahar Sander have gone from a single location in suburban Chicago to a nationally recognized brand with restaurants built or under development in Chicago, Minneapolis, Madison, Philadelphia, and Detroit.