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Leadership: What is the 10 Second Rule?

Leadership: What is the 10 Second Rule?

by David Klemt

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Anyone who spends any time reading publications that focus on business will come across the “10 Second Rule.”

So, what is this rule? And why should you care?

After all, many entrepreneurs who enter hospitality do so partially to reject “corporate life.”

Adapt Rather than Reject

First, let me say that we understand the allure of eschewing the traditional business world. KRG Hospitality is itself a rebellion against corporate life.

However, we believe that some proven business strategies absolutely have a place in independent restaurant and bar operations.

Indeed, there are lessons independent and boutique operators can learn from their chain and corporate counterparts.

Conversely, independent and boutique entrepreneurs can teach chains quite a few things.

In fact, there are chain operations out there that go to great lengths to appear independent. They strive to leverage the perception that they’re local and small.

So, rather than outright reject corporate strategies and tactics, operators should adapt them to streamline operations, reduce costs, maximize profits, and thrive long-term.

Ten Seconds

Hospitality and foodservice are fast-paced—that’s not news. When front and back of house find themselves in the weeds, passions rise quickly. Often, a blow-up is on the menu.

The same can be true during shift and staff meetings. Perhaps one or two employees aren’t engaging, or maybe there’s a long-simmering issue that’s close to boiling over.

Or, perhaps a change to operations and expectations—the reason for the meeting—immediately ruffles feathers. This rule also applies to one-on-one discussions between ownership, management, and staff.

Engaging in a dust-up can be tempting. Not many people appreciate having their authority questioned or perceived slight left unaddressed.

The 10 Second Rule I’m addressing pertains to communication. Of course, we all know communication is often two things: crucial and difficult.

Simply put, the 10 Second Rule tells us to be quiet for ten seconds. If tensions are rising (often accompanied by volume), put an end to the situation by shutting up and counting to ten.

According to people who champion this rule, a few things happen: the person who implements stops feeding the tension; that same person can now respond without emotion; it provides time to remember that the other party isn’t just an opponent; and the other party tends to also cool off.

It’s a simple rule that can have a huge impact on workplace culture. A healthier, more positive culture leads to happier staff, which improves recruiting and retention. That’s a huge payoff for just ten seconds.

Image: Jason Leung on Unsplash

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EEOC Clarifies Vaccine Stance

EEOC Clarifies Vaccine Stance

by David Klemt

Covid-19 vaccine vial on blue background

American employers have the right to require Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

This is according to recent clarifications from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Perhaps learning from yet more missteps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEOC is making their position clearer.


Per the EEOC, requiring workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t violate federal law.

However, an employer failing to provide “reasonable accommodation” in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act would be illegal.

According to the EEOC’s guidance update:

“Federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations. Other laws, not in EEOC’s jurisdiction, may place additional restrictions on employers.”

Additionally, employers who offer on-site vaccinations take on an additional responsibility. They must keep confidential any personal medical information gleaned during employee pre-vaccination screenings.

Of course, the agency’s guidance isn’t only for employers. Employees can access a fact sheet explaining pandemic-specific protections that are in place.


The EEOC’s update also addresses the right for employers to offer employees vaccine incentives.

In short, the agency says incentives are legal as long as they’re not coercive. Of course, legal experts will argue that one person’s perception of coercion will differ from another’s.

Really, the only example the EEOC provides for what may constitute a coercive incentive is “a very large incentive” that may make an employee “feel pressured to disclose protected medical information.”

Per a survey by Arizona State University and the Rockefeller Foundation, two-thirds of employers plan to offer vaccination incentives rather than mandates. However, nearly half say they’ll implement mandates if incentives don’t work. Only one-third of survey respondents don’t plan to impose vaccination requirements on employees.


Look, we all know America is a litigious society. Given that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some states have already banned vaccine requirements and passports.

Nor should it be a shock that lawsuits have been filed by employees challenging the legality of vaccine requirements. At least half of US states have introduced bills seeking to seek to limit COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Operators have a lot to consider when it comes to vaccine requirements and incentives. For example, offering the incentive that fully vaccinated employees can go maskless at work while non-vaccinated workers must wear masks can be a form of discrimination.

Beyond legal challenges, operators must also contend with public perception and backlash. With the divisions plaguing America currently, operators have a lot to think about before requiring Covid-19 vaccines for employees. While some guests will view such requirements as a responsible move that protects employees, guests and the public, others will see it as a massive violation of personal freedoms and a form of tyranny.

Truly, this is a time when operators must seriously draw on their leadership abilities, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Clearly, the topics of vaccine requirements and vaccine incentives necessitate careful consideration. This is an important leadership moment that hinges on an operator’s understanding of their team, their guests, and the market in which they operate.

Do not make vaccine decisions lightly.


This content is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as legal or other advice. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does any information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law. This information is of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of a specific individual or entity. The reader of this information alone assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information before making any decisions based on such information.

Image: Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

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What in the CDC Guidance…?

What in the CDC Guidance…?

by David Klemt

Red neon sign question mark

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is once again offering Covid-19 guidance and this time it’s taking a sharp turn.

One big takeaway is that nobody was really expecting the agency’s abrupt and surprising advice.

Also, the CDC’s updates are confusing a lot of people. So much so, in fact, that the agency is “shaking up” communications personnel.

Changing Guidelines

Clearly, the CDC’s statements toward the end of last week are shocking. The agency caught states and businesses completely off guard.

Business owners, workers and the public are unsure how to interpret the CDC’s new advice. Unfortunately, that seems to indicate that perhaps the agency didn’t take the time to really dial in their message before addressing the nation.

We’ve dealt with constant shifts in guidance for more than a year now. There’s little wonder that so many Americans are experiencing Covid-19 fatigue and skepticism.

It’s fair to say that when the CDC announced updated guidelines last week, people threw their hands up in frustration.

Obviously, the messaging was haphazard since so many attempts at clarification have taken place over the course of just a few days.

So, what’s the agency saying now?

Vague at Best

Last Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the current CDC director, said this:

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Which, okay—great. Seems like a simple bit of direction, right?

Obviously, no—not that simple. Yesterday, Dr. Walensky had to clarify the CDC’s newest guidance:

“This is not permission for widespread removal of masks. We were going to get to the point in the pandemic where the vaccinated could take off their masks.”

The Details, Kinda

In short, the new advice is aimed toward those who are fully vaccinated. To review, a person is considered to be fully vaccinated:

  • two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose regimen (Pfizer, Moderna); or
  • two weeks after receiving a dose of a one-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

Last week, Dr. Walensky said that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks or practice social distancing outdoors or indoors. Of course, caveats followed immediately, leading many people to criticize the guidance as vague and, to put it bluntly, unhelpful.

The caveats? The fully vaccinated should still wear masks in crowded settings like airports, airplanes, buses and other public transportation, hospitals, homeless shelters. Also, they should continue following the guidance of their employers and local businesses.

Sifting Through the Confusion

In a nutshell, what the CDC is saying is that fully vaccinated people can return to a semblance of their normal pre-pandemic lives.

This is likely an attempt, however slap-dash or ham-fisted, to incentivize the unvaccinated to get their shots. It’s also probably another attempt at rebooting the economy.

One problem with this new guidance is that it’s vague. People still have questions, and the CDC appears to be fine with deferring to business owners. That means, once again, front-line workers have to police mask wearing and social distancing.

Our industry has been forced to shove staff into awkward and hostile situations and confrontations for over a year now. Shifting guidance and recommendations routinely give short shrift to this facet of working during the pandemic.

Another problem with the CDC’s latest guidance? We have no way of knowing who’s actually vaccinated. Because of this, many business owners are keeping mask and social distancing rules in place to protect their staff and guests. This is no doubt already leading to uncomfortable confrontations.

Staff who can’t get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons are also now being put at risk. Since we’re relying on the “honor system” regarding mask wearing and distancing, unvaccinated workers face greater risk of exposure from unvaccinated guests.

Lack of Industry-specific Guidance

We’re still learning about Covid-19. We’re still attempting to figure out best practices. And we’re still balancing the need to keep businesses open while protecting workers and the public.

But the CDC’s latest guidance isn’t helpful. Essentially, the agency is putting the onus of their recommendations on business owners and state and local policymakers. And, of course, the CDC hasn’t put forth specific guidance for restaurants, bars and other hospitality industry businesses.

The National Restaurant Association responded to the CDC’s update by saying that “restaurant operators have the option of determining how best to enforce the new guidance,” and that they wouldn’t be updating their own Covid-19 Operating Guidance just yet. Also, the NRA stated that operators would be wise to continue to work with state and local regulatory bodies to avoid falling afoul of any mandates.

Next Steps

Operators will now have to review their Covid-19 protocols, the guidance and rules in place in their local jurisdictions, and determine what’s required and what’s best for their staff. They should also consider doing the following:

  • Inform staff about mask, social distancing, and other Covid-19 protocols, whether they’re being kept in place, adjusted or rescinded.
  • Ask staff about their comfort levels in terms of serving guests who aren’t required to wear masks at all during their visits. It’s not just guest comfort that’s important.
  • Owners and managers need to let staff know they have their backs if they’ll be enforcing protocols.
  • Ownership and management must provethey’re backing up their teams. If operators think they’re facing labor challenges now, they’ll struggle even harder if they fail to back up workers who are tasked with informing guests that Covid protocols are in place.
  • Operators should make their protocols known—if they’re still in place—on social, their websites, via email, and in-person so there are no surprises when guests arrive.

Once again, business owners are left to deal with the aftermath of the CDC’s “recommendations.” Now more than ever, guest-facing staff need to be supported.

Image: Simone Secci on Unsplash

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NRN Shares Inclusion Insights Report

NRN Shares Inclusion Insights Report

by David Klemt

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Featuring insights from their 2021 Power List, an inclusion report from American trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News is now available.

Overall, NRN’s 2021 Power List consists of C-suite and executive heavy hitters from some of the most influential restaurant groups.

For example, Domino’s, Yum Brands, &pizza, and Momofuku Restaurant Group, are on this year’s list.

To compile their 2021 Power List: Leadership & Inclusion Insights report, NRN asked their power players to identify a team member who embody inclusivity.

Lessons Learned from 2020

NRN’s report is broken down into five sections; this is the first.

Reading through the insights in this section, you’ll find that agility and adaptability are crucial to navigating crises. That will come as no surprise to many.

However, what really strikes me are the words of Donnie Upshaw, SVP for people at Wingstop. Upshaw cites the importance of culture and core values:

“Our core values, known as ‘The Wingstop Way’—service-minded, authentic, entrepreneurial and fun—have been and will continue to be our guiding light through all seasons of our business.”

Those core values, along with Wingstop culture and a focus on retaining top talent, are keys to their successful navigating of the pandemic.

Accomplishments During a Pandemic

The pandemic has torn apart the hospitality industry and continues to do so. In America, we’re just now seeing specific relief targeting foodservice businesses.

Given the situation, just surviving the pandemic is an accomplishment.

Still, chain and independent operators are forging paths forward and inspiring others inside and outside of the industry.

Erika Palomar, COO of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, says the group “faced the darkest hours, together.”

Palomar continues: “They held fast to their commitment to change the most lives possible. This group has the remarkable ability to look beyond their door and inspire others to take action and make bold changes that will serve this industry and our society for the better.”

Importance of Leadership & Impact

The job of owners, operators, managers, and mentors is to lead. Doing so is one of the most effective tools for growing a business and retaining talent.

Adversity, of course, is one of the—if not the—greatest challenges to leadership.

Beth Scott, president of Fleming’s, says building trust is the first step in realizing the core of what it means to be a leader: inspiring and influencing, not commanding.

Jason Crain, CRO of Slutty Vegan, says, “Leading is dynamic and solution oriented.” Crain points to knowing when to implement different forms of leadership as a crucial element.

Further Insights

NRN’s report has two more categories, “Fostering Diversity & Inclusion” and “The Future of Foodservice.” There are insights from several more power players who drive the missions of inclusivity, diversity and equity.

We encourage you to follow this link and review the report for invaluable motivation and inspiration for your own business.

Image: Free-Photos from Pixabay

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Is Gen Z the Workforce Solution?

Is Gen Z the Workforce Solution?

by David Klemt

Momofuku Las Vegas interior

Is Gen Z the solution to the industry’s workforce problem?

That’s one big question posed during the 2021 Restaurants Canada Show.

A panel consisting of Philip Mondor, president and CEO of Tourism HR Canada; Adam Morrison, president and CEO of Ontario Tourism Education Corporation; Jody Palubiski, CEO of the Charcoal Group; and Lori Wilson, manager of people and change at BDO Consulting have answers.

The Problem

Canada’s hospitality industry is facing a labour shortage. In fact, that has been the case since before the pandemic.

According to several sources, the hospitality industry is Canada’s fourth-largest private-sector employer. And yet, there’s a labour crisis.

This is partially due to Baby Boomers retiring. As they leave the workforce, there’s a disparity in the number of people in Canada working or seeking work.

According to a January 2020 report from The Globe and Mail, there were at least 60,000 empty positions in foodservice before Covid-19 lockdowns.

Mondor concurs with that article’s sentiment. He expects “a very large shortfall” over the next year that could force the industry into a four-year recovery.

The Solution?

Neither Wilson, Mondor, Morrison or Palubiski see Gen Z as the solution to Canada’s labour shortage problem.

Now, that isn’t to suggest that operators and managers should dismiss Gen Z. Rather, Mondor suggests including this generation as they enter the workforce without viewing them as the only solution.

“Relying on youth alone is not going to meet the demand,” says Mondor.

Instead, Mondor posits that new Canadians—immigrants—will play a significant role in the hospitality industry moving forward. In fact, Mondor expects immigrants to make up 50 percent of Canada’s workforce.

Recruitment and Training

Palubiski says that what separates Gen Z from other generations is how connected and informed they are. Screen time provides Gen Zers plenty of information about social, regional and global issues.

To recruit Gen Z, Palubiski suggests brands and businesses be transparent about their stances on issues such as sustainability and the climate.

However, that approach to recruiting isn’t just effective when it comes to Gen Z—employees and guests alike want to know where a brand stands.

Morrison says that it’s important to be cognizant of the employment market. Knowing what people are being paid, even if an operator can’t match or beat that rate, is helpful. It’s also part of an effective strategy, says Morrison, to understand the ambitions of candidates to see if available roles will match their motivations.


Once an operator has built a team, the next step—training—is key to staff retention. And not just training for the specifics of one particular role in a restaurant or bar.

Rather, the panel agrees that this industry does a poor job of documenting transferrable skills. For example, operators can help develop employees’ leadership and conflict resolution skills (among many others) that they can take into other careers. Operators must explain that benefit to employees and help nurture it.

Additionally, the panel suggests looking at training and retention in the following ways to adapt and make businesses in this industry stronger:

  • Invest in people, don’t just hire them. That means training and developing their skills and careers.
  • View hiring and training as investments, not costs.
  • Everyone makes mistakes. True leaders admit their mistakes, fix them, and move forward.
  • Ask this question: Do your employees feel a greater affinity for this industry and your business after they’ve started working with you?

In parting, operators and managers should consider this: Palubiski had to furlough 950 employees due to the pandemic. A staggering 95 percent returned when they were called back. That is effective hiring, training, development and retention to emulate.

Image: Jason Leung on Unsplash