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Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings Launches LEAD Program to Fuel Team Member Career Growth

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By Kendra Rhim

Buffalo Wild Wings is helping team members across the country jumpstart the next phase of their career through the LEAD Program.

LEAD (Learn, Experience, Assess, Develop) was launched to the brand in 2021 and is designed to fuel career growth and elevate team member success companywide. Through no coincidence but the hard work of participating team members, recognition of LEAD is gaining momentum and will continue to serve as a pillar for creating pivotal moments across sports bars.

LEAD is made up of key tools like an Experience Toolbox, Professional Development Plan, Next Level Assessments, Development Classes, Development Review Panel, and more. Whether team members strive to work their way up within Buffalo Wild Wings, or their game plan takes them elsewhere, the tools within LEAD are a unique approach to supporting team members on their career growth journeys.

“LEAD is a key program for Inspire Brands and was quickly embraced by Buffalo Wild Wings,” says Lyle Tick, President of Buffalo Wild Wings. “As a part of Inspire’s People First Program, it is foundational to how we help people achieve their goals and deliver on the mission of the Upward Mobility in Restaurant Operations pillar.”

In 2021, the program had a strong focus on the ‘develop’ piece and nearly 400 team members across 14 regions participated in the Development Classes. Participants attended a series of eight classes over the course of 10 months, where they covered topics like how to train a team, how to create a positive work culture, and how to retain talent.

“As a participant in the LEAD program I can say, without a doubt, that it was instrumental in not only my recent promotion, but also my deep-rooted commitment to Inspire Brands,” says Field Training Manager, Domenic Bartolini.

Buffalo Wild Wings celebrated LEAD graduates by sending a graduation kit to their District Manager so they could personally congratulate each graduate within their district. The graduation kit included items such as a LEAD padfolio, certificate of achievement, and social media selfie frame.

As a result of the Development Classes, shift managers experienced a promotion rate of 73% across company sports bars, as well as a promotion rate of 40% for department managers and assistant general managers.

“I’ve seen the excitement and drive it’s given to those taking advantage of the tools and classes. I am most proud to see how many team members who have completed the program have already taken the next step in their career with us,” Lyle says.

The next round of Development Classes began this month.