Teamwork

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hiring Struggles? Engage These Age Groups

Hiring Struggles? Engage These Age Groups

by David Klemt

Chef plating greens on plates

Staff turnover rates are still above pre-pandemic levels and there’s no silver bullet solution. However, two companies have some helpful advice.

Both Service Management Group and Technomic shared their tips during Restaurant Leadership Conference. Interestingly, each company has a different approach to the current hospitality industry labor problem.

In short, both SMG and Technomic advise operators to engage with vastly different age groups. However, they each have information that supports their recommendations.

Service Management Group

Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, co-presented a session with Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

SMG is a software-with-a-service platform that seeks to the employee, customer, and brand experience. One crucial element of the company’s mission is the reduction of staff turnover.

During the RLC session, Grimes shared several years of hospitality turnover rates:

  • 2017: 72%
  • 2018: 75%
  • 2019: 79%
  • 2020: 130%
  • 2021: 86%

First, some context. The general consensus is that the industry’s average turnover rate has been between 70 and 80 percent for close to a decade. However, in comparison to other industries—10 to 15 percent—that’s stratospherically high.

Secondly, the turnover rate has been on rise since before the pandemic. Per some sources, the rate jumped from 66 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2015, a trend that continues to this day.

For SMG, the age group operators should seek to engage—generally speaking, of course—is 25 to 34 years old. Per the SWaS platform, this group was the most engaged pre-pandemic.

One reason for SMG’s suggestion is that Boomers appear to opting out of the workforce.

During the presentation by Grimes and Thompson, the latter shared that Chicken Salad Chick predicts the 2022 turnover rate to be just slightly above the 2019 rate.

Technomic

Unsurprisingly, Technomic had some numbers to share during RLC 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Per data provided by Joe Pawlak and Richard Shank, 70 percent of operators are still struggling with labor. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining staff doesn’t appear to be getting any easier four months into 2022.

Technomic also pointed out that the US saw the lowest population growth in its history last year: 0.1 percent.

Additionally, almost 17 percent of the country’s population is now at least 65 years old. In 2019, 48 percent of people 55 or older retired. That number is now just over 50 percent for the same age group.

Nearly seven million American consumers turn 60 each year, while four million turn 70 or older.

Logically, one may assume that Technomic is saying a significant portion of the US population is leaving the workforce. So, it’s best to focus on the same age group as SMG recommends.

However, Technomic is recommending a different strategy. Per Pawlak and Shank, retirees (mostly ages 55 and up) tend to have valuable managerial skills and experience.

Obviously, those skills and all that experience can be of great benefit to operators and our industry.

Certainly, all groups should be engaged by operators seeking to recruit, hire, and develop their teams. So, as KRG Hospitality sees recruitment, operators should craft targeted, authentic messaging that appeals to each age group.

Image: Sebastian Coman Photography from Pexels

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This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

by David Klemt

Server helping guest in restaurant

There’s an easy way to identify whether there are changes that need to be made to processes and practices that only requires observation and time.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much time, either. In less than a week, an operator can determine if there are issues relating to onboarding new hires.

This simple test was shared during the 2022 Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale.

Interviews are Just the Start

It should go without saying but here we go: The hiring process doesn’t end with the interview.

An operator or their leadership team found an amazing job candidate? Awesome! That’s no small feat these days.

However, that’s just the first step in hiring and building a rock star restaurant, bar or hotel team.

Step two is onboarding, step three is training, and step four is advancement.

For KRG Hospitality, onboarding goes far beyond filling out federal and state paperwork. There’s more to it than setting up direct deposit and getting a new hire on the schedule.

Rather, operators need to implement a fully developed onboarding process. The key word there is “process.”

True onboarding includes the review of an employee handbook and an introduction to the business. During this process new hires should become familiar with the brand’s history, vision, culture, mission, and core values.

By the end of this process, a new team member should understand what’s expected of them, both in their individual role and behaviorally. Additionally, they should be introduced to the entire team.

In reality, the onboarding process is the development of a professional relationship.

The Test

Technically, the actual test for operators is for them to have in-depth hiring, onboarding and training processes in place.

So, operators should take a moment to review whether they have those processes.

However, the test I’m talking about here relates to onboarding directly. It’s simple and it was shared during RLC 2022 by Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

The only requirement is a few days’ time and an observant operator and/or leadership team.

Let’s say a candidate nails the interview. In particular, their personality is perfect for the available role. As the the hospitality industry maxim goes, hire for personality, train for skills.

The new hire works their first shift but their personality doesn’t shine through. However, that could be first-day jitters. Unfortunately, that personality the leadership team hired for is nowhere to be seen during their next few shifts.

According to Thompson, if a new hire’s personality doesn’t shine through within four shifts, there’s likely a process and practices issue. The lack of personality is an indicator that the new team member doesn’t feel confident in their role.

The onboarding process—either too shallow or nonexistent—is a likely culprit. Operators can use this test, a simple four-shift observation of a new hire, to determine if there’s a problem.

Once identified, the operator and their leaders can put their heads together, review the issue, and implement effective, positive change.

Image: Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

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Leadership Facepalm, Part Two

Leadership Facepalm, Part Two

by David Klemt

Airplane email icon set against white brick wall

In a stunning example of tone-deafness and callousness, a franchisee executive sent an email that led to severe consequences.

And no, I’m not talking about the termination of the offending exec. That, in my opinion, was well deserved.

In this instance, the email has led to mass resignations and damage to a global restaurant chain’s reputation. What’s more, the negative impact to the brand’s reputation comes from consumers and employees.

Of course, I’m talking about the now-infamous Applebee’s “gas prices” email.

The Email: Labor

Let’s just jump right into the email, because…wow.

“Most of our employee base and potential employee base lives paycheck to paycheck,” writes the executive. “Any increase gas prices cuts into their disposable income.”

This could have been an excellent example of awareness and perhaps even empathy. In the context of this email, it’s appalling.

Why? Mainly because this executive appears to be celebrating the fact that Applebee’s employees, at least those who work for this franchisee, are barely earning a living wage.

“As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up, that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living,” continues the author.

In this exec’s view, this franchisee is “no longer competing with the government when it comes to hiring.” He cites stimulus payments and boosted unemployment support have run out. Therefore, he reasons that people will be forced to return to the workforce.

The author further points to competitors increasing wages to recruit and retain employees. This, he figures, is untenable and some will have to close their doors. So, the labor pool will fill up and this franchisee will benefit.

The Email: Wages

Some of what I’ve laid out above is accurate. According to some estimates, about two-thirds of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Additionally, it’s accurate to state that some employees will seek more hours to combat the effects of rising costs. Further, yes, the labor market is turbulent and challenging.

And, unfortunately, some independent operators are facing incredibly difficult decisions. To recruit and retain, they’ll need to be competitive and raise their wages. To pay for that, they’ll need to raise prices, passing on rising costs to customers. In some instances, for some operators, that will prove unsustainable.

However, an executive in this industry shouldn’t be delighted about any of this. And they certainly shouldn’t see it as an opportunity to potentially pay employees even less.

You see, the author of this email suggests that the franchisee can bring in new workers “at a lower wage to decrease our labor (when able).”

He then recommends monitoring employee morale to ensure that the Applebee’s operated by this franchisee is their “employer of choice.”

For me, however, the most eyeroll-inducing line is this: “Most importantly, have the culture and environment that will attract people.”

Images of printouts of the email reveal that at least a handful of recipients agreed. “Great message Sir! [sic]” reads one response. Another paints the email as “Words of wisdom.”

Clearly, the culture and environment are unhealthy.

The Consequences

Before I proceed, know this: I’m not going to name the author. It’s not remotely difficult to find the author’s name if you feel the need.

However, I will name the franchisee that finally fired him. American Franchise Capital reportedly owns more than 120 Applebee’s and Taco Bell locations in nine states.

So, to be clear, this executive didn’t work for Applebee’s directly. In fact, Applebee’s has disavowed the former executive and the email.

In the interest of clarity, it’s possible the author worked for Apple Central LLC, owned by American Franchise Capital.

As far as fallout, it was swift. According to reports, consequences were realized immediately. A Kansas franchise manager was shown the emails, printed them out for staff to discover, and comped the meals of everyone at the location. Then, he quit and the staff walked out.

Per reporting, four other Applebee’s managers quit, as did several employees. The location remained closed for at least the following day.

If reports are accurate, Applebee’s lost five managers, nearly a dozen employees, and sales from a location for at least two days. That’s just the localized fallout.

Applebee’s, of course, is distancing the company from the former executive. However, that’s not going to stanch the reputational bleeding and turnover.

As we know, a significant percentage of consumers want to know their dollars and support are going to companies that align with their values. The same is true of employees; they want to work for companies with values they can get behind.

A Final Thought

This now-infamous email was sent March 9. Just two weeks later, it was circulated and went viral. The author, gleeful about being able to hire employees “at a lower wage,” was fired before the end of March.

I’ve seen several takes on this situation, and I’ve read some accompanying leadership advice. One in particular caught my attention.

Unfortunately, it’s not because I thought it was great advice: Be cautious about what you send via blast emails.

I’m not saying one shouldn’t be careful about what they send out in emails—that’s good advice. However, that’s not the lesson I’ve learned from this situation.

Personally, I see this as a lesson in emotional intelligence, relationship intelligence, brand culture, and work environment.

At least two companies, one with annual sales in the billions of dollars, another in the hundreds of millions, have had their reputations tarnished. The fault may not lie with Applebee’s but they’ll be dealing with the consequences regardless.

If an operator is going to learn anything about being cautious, it’s this: Be cautious when hiring those in leadership positions. Be cautious about those with whom you enter into partnerships. And be careful about how you view those who work for you.

If you aren’t seeing those who choose to work for you as people worthy of your respect, as human beings, your brand’s culture is poisoned.

Image: Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

by David Klemt

Close-up shot of person texting on phone in a restaurant

Here’s a hot take on the employer-employee dynamic: Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning demanding they come in on their day off.

In fact, let’s compress this piece of advice. Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning.

Really, I shouldn’t have to explain the myriad reasons that doing so isn’t acceptable. However, a post on Reddit shows that this topic needs addressing.

Are You Serious?

Yes, I’m using a Reddit post as an example of what not to do. And yes, I’m going to assume the post is legitimate for the purposes of education.

Owners, operators, and members of leadership teams need to lead. Micromanaging, assuming staff is at their beck and call, and domineering behavior only lead to high turnover.

A high staff churn rate is costly, and not just financially. Yes, it costs thousands of dollars to replace a single member of staff. However, immediate financial costs shouldn’t be the only concern.

Churning through staff also damages a restaurant, bar, hotel, or owner’s reputation. Should they become known as a bad employer—word gets around quickly in this industry—and eventually an operator won’t be able to hire rock star talent.

Over time, they’ll only draw in workers that chase away their guests. After that, the operator will be closing the doors.

“You Need to Be a Team Player”

Interestingly, the Reddit post that’s inspiring this article isn’t brand new. The post in question is about six months old.

But these days, with the shift in the employee-employer dynamic that’s taking place, stories of “epic” or “savage” quitting garner attention.

Again, there are myriad reasons people are drawn to these stories. Rather than read through those, let’s take a look at this quitting story.

A bartender took to Reddit (again, I’m assuming this is a fact) to share texts from his (former) manager. The timestamp on the first text? 2:59 in the morning.

“I need you to come in from 11a-10p today,” starts the text. The reason? Only one bartender is on the schedule for an event that day.

In response, the bartender says, “No thank you,” stating it’s their day off. And then the manager makes a demand using a term that gets thrown around far too much when some people in a position of authority don’t get the response they want (in my opinion).

The bartender is told they need to be a “team player,” and that “it isn’t all about you.” On a positive note, the manager does then say “please” and asks the bartender to come in.

Putting their cards on the table, the bartender says they’ve had a few drinks and don’t want to work an eleven-hour shift with a hangover. Personally, I don’t think the manager was due that explanation but okay.

This doesn’t sit well with the manager, who now attempts to police the bartender’s personal time. According to the texts, the bartender needs “to stay ready for work.” This is apparently because “getting too drunk is not a good look if you can’t stay prepared.”

“Fed Up with You”

After a few more texts back and forth, the manager fast-tracks this situation’s escalation. The bartender is told that they’re going to talk about the bartender’s “attitude” when they “come in Sunday.”

Well, it’s highly unlikely that conversation ever took place. According to screengrabs of the texts, the bartender replies, “No we’re not.” They then proceed to remind the manager that “dozens” of places are hiring bartenders. They’re happy to go work for one of those businesses.

Unsurprisingly, the manager attempts to backpedal. They say that the bartender is making a rash decision “because you’re drunk” and will regret it the next day. That approach doesn’t work.

Now, there’s one sentence that suggests to me, if this situation is real, that the owner needs to address this manager. Or, if this manager is the owner of the business, that they need to work on developing leadership skills.

That line? “I’m fed up with you.”

Sure, they could mean they’re fed up with them in this instance. However, the line follows the bartender saying that their are several other places they can find work instead.

My interpretation is that at a minimum, these two have a problem with one another. Worst case, this manager isn’t doing the owner (or themselves) any favors with their “leadership” style.

Just…Don’t Do This

Please, please, please, don’t text or call staff at 3:00 in the morning. There are perhaps a tiny handful of reasons to ignore this advice. As I see it, those reasons all involve emergencies.

And no, being short-staffed for an event the following morning is not an emergency worthy of texting or calling an employee to cover a shift so late at night/early in the morning.

There are several leadership and scheduling solutions that can prevent this type of situation. In this particular instance, since the bartender was “fed up with” this manager, they were going to quit sooner or later.

Which brings me to my first point: Operators need to know what their leaders are doing. How are they treating staff? How does the staff perceive the leadership teams?

Secondly, how do the operator and other leaders perceive one another? Is everything running smoothly or is one “leader” not really leading?

And finally, scheduling technology. These days, there’s really no excuse for many kinds of scheduling problems. Several scheduling apps integrate well with popular restaurant, bar, and hotel POS systems.

For example, HotSchedules gives staff the ability to give away, swap, and pick up shifts. Another example is OpenSimSim, which provides an open shift invite feature. Staff can also set their profiles to auto-accept shifts as they become available.

7shifts and Schedulefly can also help fill shifts. And like HotSchedules and OpenSimSim, leaders can message groups and individuals, and vice versa.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is this: The maxim, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers,” is accurate. Leaders need to respect their team members and their personal time.

Image: Alex Ware on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How to Achieve Your Goals in 2022

How to Achieve Your Goals in 2022

by Jennifer Radkey

"Wake up, kick ass, repeat" neon sign on wall

The start of a new year for many is symbolic: Fresh year, fresh start.

With the best of intentions, millions of people worldwide create resolutions and set goals for both personal and professional growth and achievement. These goals are created with full enthusiasm and determination and then….the majority of them never come to fruition.

Studies have shown that approximately 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. So what happens? And how can we push forward to achieve our goals instead of letting them slip away?

The majority of us know how to set clearly defined goals. It is something we learned in school, or have read countless articles about. It seems as if it is human nature to want to improve, to do better and be better.

In the hospitality industry, we ask our team members to set goals weekly, if not daily. Goals typically include improving guest retention, increasing sales, improving guest experience, etc.

But once these goals are set, what systems are in place to help your team achieve them? And are you leading by example?

Goal Setting

There are many techniques to goal setting. George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham developed the very popular SMART goal tool to assist in developing clearly defined, task-oriented goals. They state that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-specific (SMART).

Rhonda Byrne’s book, The Secret, discusses envisioning your goals and life desires to attract them to you. But goal achievement is more than just setting a clear goal, or dreaming about what it would be like to achieve that goal. Those are the starting points.

Goal achievement is a process. It can be nitty and gritty and tough. There is typically no easy way. However, there are strategies we can use to help us achieve them, and the result will almost always be worth the extra effort.

Why We Fail

There are countless reasons why goals or resolutions fail, but the reasons mostly fall under two categories: You either lose your willpower or your waypower.

The concepts of willpower and waypower in relation to goal achievement is introduced in Rick Snyder’s Hope Theory, explained is his book The Psychology of Hope: You Can Get There From Here.

Willpower is the desire to achieve your goal; it’s the fire that pushes us to keep going after what we want. Waypower is the map for how we will get to our end goal; it’s the careful plan we have in place to ensure we overcome any obstacles that get in our way.

When we lack willpower our goal seems unachievable, and therefore we give up. When we lack waypower, as badly as we may want to achieve our goal, we are lost with no clear idea of how to get there.

How to Succeed

Finding Your Willpower

If you have lost your willpower, there are several ways to reignite your desire to achieve your goal.

The first is to have constant reminders of your goal. Have it written somewhere where you will have access to it several times a day. Set reminders on your phone, put sticky notes around your office or house, create a vision board representing your goal as your screensaver or on a wall in your home or office.

Remind yourself of why you set the goal in the first place and how it will make your life better.

Many of us lose our willpower when faced with obstacles. Instead of being deflated by obstacles, look at them as challenges to be defeated. Use obstacles as fuel for your fire rather than water to dampen it.

When faced with obstacles it is also helpful to remind yourself of goals that you have achieved in the past and the obstacles you had to overcome to get there. Remembering this time will allow you to acknowledge that you ARE capable and therefore will keep your willpower intact.

Finding your Waypower

Life is busy, and when you are being pulled in many directions at the same time it can be easy to lose your way towards achieving your goals. To ensure that you stay on the path towards goal completion, there are several actions you can take.

Try breaking long-range goals into smaller steps. Start with the first step, and move on to the next, checking off and celebrating each step as you go.

Before you even begin your journey towards goal completion, map out different routes you may need to get there. Knowing these routes beforehand will make it easier to stay focused along the way.

Lastly, know when to ask for helpand be willing to accept it. If you get lost on your way to your goal, perhaps you need some advice from someone who has already achieved that goal.

WOOP

One of my favorite goal achievement strategies is WOOP, created by Gabriele Oettingen. This acronym stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.

WOOP is a straightforward and effective tool to use when setting goals, and has been practiced by everyone from elementary school students to CEOs of major corporations. Once practiced, WOOP can take less than five minutes of your time while providing great clarity.

The first step is to state your wish or goal clearly. Next, envision the outcome of achieving your goal. Take a couple minutes to really picture what it will look and feel like to achieve your goal.

You are then going to contrast that by thinking of what obstacles might block you from achieving your goal. It is important to note that these obstacles are internal not external.

We rarely have control over external obstacles but do have control over internal ones. What is it about you that will stop you from reaching your goal? Is it low self-esteem, laziness, doubt? Are you distracted easily?

Lastly, you are going to plan what to do when met with an obstacle by using “if/then” phrasing. For example, “If I am feeling lazy and want to have a Netflix marathon instead of working on my goal, then I will get off the couch, do ten jumping jacks, grab a drink of water, and start working on my goal.”

If you are interested in trying out the WOOP tool for goal setting/achievement you can visit www.woopmylife.org.

Own It

Goal setting and resolutions should not be a forced activity you do every new year, or birthday, or every Monday morning to start your week. Goal setting and achievement should be a constant, flowing activity that reaches into all parts of your life.

Through the use of strategies and consistent review, reassessment, and awareness, goals don’t need to be lost or given up on, unless that particular goal no longer serves a purpose to you.

Own your goals and take pride in your achievements. In the end, you will always be your number one advocate for your own growth.

So go get it! Cheers to professional and personal well-being!

Image: Justin Veenema on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Adding Veterans to Your Team

Adding Veterans to Your Restaurant, Bar or Hotel Team

by David Klemt

Military combat helmet in digital camouflage

Do more this Veterans Day by encouraging those who have served to apply and interview for available positions on your team.

There are several benefits to providing job opportunities to veterans, regardless of the country (or countries) in which you operate.

Of course, there are dos and don’ts that come along with recruiting, hiring and working with veterans.

Benefits to Hiring Veterans

Before we begin, a caveat: Remember that veterans are individuals. “Veteran” is a label, a designation, a descriptor. In no way is one person who is a veteran interchangeable with another.

That said, there are some elements of military service that are similar to those of successful hospitality operations.

Teamwork, a strong work ethic, leadership skills, precision in tasks, achieving goals, consistency in results… When a restaurant, bar or hotel team is operating at its best, it can be said they work with military precision.

Generally speaking, veteran job candidates bring experience to the table that can benefit an operator greatly.

Additionally, it’s commonly said that hospitality leadership should hire for personality because they can train requisite skills. Speaking generally again, many veterans are so used to receiving specialized training that they’ll likely appreciate and respond quickly to yours.

If you want your business to operate with military precision, why wouldn’t you hire military personnel who fit well within your team?

Questions to Ask During Interviews

Obviously, there are definite dos and don’ts when it comes to discussing a veteran’s military experience.

As curious as you may be about some aspects of a veteran’s experience, questions shouldn’t be invasive or offensive.

Some examples of questions you should ask are:

  • “What did you do (in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard or Reserves)?”
  • “Why did you choose that branch of the military?”
  • “How long did you serve?”
  • “Do you come from a military family?”
  • “Where were you stationed during your career in the military? Did you visit any other countries?”
  • “Where was your favorite place you visited or lived?”
  • “How do you think your experience in the military will benefit you here?”

As you can see, nothing in those questions should make a veteran applicant uncomfortable.

Questions and Behaviors to Avoid

Speaking of discomfort, there are many questions that you should never ask a veteran. Not just during the interview process, but ever.

Also, if a veteran informs you they’re uncomfortable answering a question about their service, that should be respected.

Examples of questions and topics you should avoid are:

  • “Do you have PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder)?”
  • “Do you find it hard to get back to ‘real/regular’ life after being in the military?”
  • “Did you ever get shot/stabbed/bombed?”
  • “Did you ever kill anyone?”
  • “What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you while you served?”
  • Current military conflicts, particularly if you haven’t served in the military.
  • Referring to elements of work through military analogies.
  • Insulting branches of the military if you never served.

In short, treat veterans with the respect their deserve, as you should any other member of your staff. Veterans aren’t novelties or curiosities—they’re people.

For too long, veterans have faced undue scrutiny and undeserved stigmatization. It shouldn’t be difficult to turn that around when the solution is simple: Give veterans respect; treat them like  people since that’s precisely what they are; and provide equal opportunity.

Image: israel palacio on Unsplash

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

Why You Should Hire for Grit

Why You Should Hire for Grit

by Jennifer Radkey

Punch today in the face motivation print

It’s no secret that the hospitality industry is currently struggling to fill empty positions.

In an industry that suffered immensely throughout the pandemic with closures and restrictions, the desire for workers to return is low. Add in underlying issues such as low wages, unappealing hours, and sometimes undesirable work culture, and it makes the hunt for great employees seem even more daunting.

But what do you do when the resumes do come in? How do you select team members who will make your business stronger and help you strive towards success?

I’m going to suggest that you start by looking for one key characteristic: Grit.

What is Grit?

Psychologist and grit specialist Angela Duckworth states that, “Grit is sustained passion and perseverance for long term goals.” Grit is showing stamina in order to achieve success. It is often a better predictor of success than talent or skill alone.

If you want to do a deep dive into the benefits of grit to learn how and why grit is a better predictor of success than talent or intelligence, I highly suggest reading Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. You can also check out her Ted Talks.

Why Grit?

Gritty individuals are more likely to deal with adversity better. These are the people you want on your team, especially in leadership roles. They are individuals who see success as a marathon and do not quit.

In an industry known for high turnover, the number one quality you should be scouting for is perseverance. Who is going to stick with you when times are stressful? Who is going to push for personal and professional growth? These are the individuals you need to look for.

Hiring for Skill

Many restaurant and bar owners will look at skill first when hiring new staff. I get it. If someone has previous experience and has demonstrated job specific skills, then it means less training on your part. If they “know what they’re doing,” that individual should be a good hire, right?

While finding someone with skill may prove that they can do the day-to-day tasks, it says nothing about how dedicated they will be to your business, what their growth potential is, or what their values may be. Skill can be easily taught; values, grit, and a growth mindset, however, can not.

Hiring for Grit

It starts with your job ad. An individual with grit is on the search for growth opportunities and for challenges.

What are you offering your team members? Are you offering learning opportunities, tuition assistance, training experiences? Are you making this clear from the very start that these opportunities are available?

If you want dedicated employees who are of a growth mindset you need to attract them to you with what they are searching for.

The Resume

Resumes may not be plentiful, and you may need to fill a position ASAP, but you still need to take the time to carefully analyze a resume if you want to hire for long-term success.

When reading a resume there are clues to indicate if the candidate has grit. Firstly, check to see how long they have stuck with previous jobs, teams, hobbies, volunteer positions, etc. Do they have a lot of experience but have switched jobs every one to two years? Have they done a lot of volunteer work but only for very brief stints?

Secondly, what level of achievement did they receive in these? For example, an individual who was on a varsity basketball team for four years, was made captain, and won a championship shows more grit than someone who played recreational basketball for a year and didn’t win any major awards.

One more example: An individual who started off as host, stayed with the restaurant for several years, and during that time made his way to the management team shows more grit than an individual who has more years of experience but it is spread over various establishments and each stint is less than a year in length.

The Hiring Process

A person with grit will not make you hunt them down. If anything, they will hunt you down!

The individuals who go out of their way to research your establishment before an interview, who follow up in a timely way for setting up interviews, and who follow up after their resume is sent and after they have an interview are the type of people you want on your team.

Do not overlook these individuals (even if they don’t have a ton of experience) because they are demonstrating respect, a keen interest in working for you, and dedication. Remember, skill can easily be taught but key qualities such as grit and growth mindset can not.

The Interview

There are some key questions you can ask during the interview process to determine if a candidate has grit:

  • “Tell me about a big goal you had and how you went about achieving that goal.” Look for specific details about how they reached their goal.
  • “Tell me about a time when you gave up on a goal, and why.” People give up on goals all the time. Perhaps it turned out to just not be feasible. Maybe a major life-changing event happened. A person with grit will typically only give up on a goal for a significant reason.
  • “Tell me about a major obstacle or challenge that you recently had to overcome, and how you did so.” The hospitality industry is full of obstacles and daily challenges both big and small. You need an idea of if and how your team members can overcome these obstacles.
  • “Who is a successful person that you admire, and why?” Does the candidate admire someone successful because of work ethic, grit, perseverance, bravery, etc.? Or do they admire the person for talent, success, material wealth, and popularity? What we admire in others is often what we try to achieve for ourselves.

These are all questions that will give you an idea of someone’s level of grit.

The Bottom Line

Turnover hurts everyone, and it hurts our bottom line. In our industry it is inevitable, but it doesn’t need to be a continuous revolving door of employees.

Start by attracting the right people, look for signs of grit during the hiring process, and then do your part by creating a rewarding and positive work environment to create longevity.

Is hiring stressful? You bet. But if you do it right, hopefully you won’t have to do it often! Here’s to personal and professional well-being. Cheers!

Image: Johnson Wang on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Establishing a Gratitude Culture

Establishing a Gratitude Culture

by Jennifer Radkey

Thank you neon sign

In a busy world, and what sometimes seems to be an even busier industry, when do we stop to allow time for gratitude? And why should we?

The hospitality industry is built on the premise of providing a welcoming, friendly environment to guests. There have been countless articles written upon how to provide our guests with a positive and memorable experience.

Most of us are very aware of the need to thank our guests for their loyalty through customer appreciation programs, etc. We train our staff on the importance of thanking guests, ensuring that they will choose to visit our establishment again in the future.

To have a successful hospitality establishment our gratitude needs to go deeper than that. We don’t need to just thank our guests, we need to establish a culture of gratitude within our team; and it starts at the top.

Why Gratitude

Gratitude has been found to build stronger relationships, increase helping behaviours, improve quality of sleep, and just improve our overall well-being.

Martin P. Seligman, a psychologist at Penn State University, is one of the leading and founding psychologists in the field of Positive Psychology. His PERMA model dictates what well-being consists of: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Good Relationships, Meaning and Purpose, and Achievement/Accomplishment.

There are obviously many ways in which to achieve the five different components of PERMA, but one of the key character strengths that contributes to all of them is gratitude.

Why should we take on the responsibility of establishing gratitude within our team culture? Well, when you feel good about yourself you are more likely to share skills with others. You can be motivated to work harder and in turn inspire those around you to do so as well.

A team that feels appreciated and learns to be grateful for each other and for the opportunities and experiences the job affords them, is a team that will more likely stick together; support each other; work through problems more effectively; show compassion; embrace differences and creativity; and generally be stronger.

It Starts with You

So, how do we go about establishing a gratitude practice in our workplace? To do that you need to start with yourself.

People are smart—they can sense “fake” gratitude. It needs to be genuine. For some people, gratitude comes naturally; it is one of their character strengths. For others, expressing thanks may feel awkward, so gratitude needs to be practiced daily to build this skill.

Start by taking five minutes at the end of the day before you fall asleep and write down three good things that happened to you that day, and why they happened. Seligman calls this the Three Blessings activity.

Try this for a few weeks. Once you start taking just a few minutes each day to think about what went well, you will naturally find yourself seeking out and recognizing the good things in the moment.

The How

Once you feel comfortable expressing gratitude, it’s time to share with your team and watch the magic happen!

There are countless ways of establishing a gratitude practice in your team culture. One simple way to start is to call team members out on the great stuff they do and genuinely thank them for it.

Example: There is a particularly challenging guest who is upset and taking out their frustrations on one of your servers. Your server remains poised and offers various solutions to ease the guest’s frustration, in turn diminishing what could have been an ugly scene. You then approach your server afterwards and express thanks for the way the situation was handled.

Be specific in your praise and be genuine in your gratitude. Your server will go from feeling potentially upset or stressed about the situation to feeling good about themselves for how they handled it. And you will feel grateful for having such a responsible and stellar employee. Win-win situation.

A Grateful Team

Besides taking the time to notice and be outwardly grateful for the small things your team members do daily to contribute to the success of your vision and business, there are team-building gratitude activities you can initiate.

Try setting up a “Thanks for Being Awesome” board, either a physical one in a back room/staff room or an online one where team members can write quick thank-you notes to each other and post them.

“Thanks for taking my shift so I could take care of my sick mom.”

“Thank you for making me laugh with that ridiculous joke the other night!”

“Thanks for teaching me that new bartending flair trick!”

A team who is thankful for each other is a team who will build each other up, and in turn build up your business and revenue.

Silver Linings

Team meetings are an easy place to insert a gratitude practice. During the team meeting insert a “silver linings” activity.

Have team members discuss things that did not go well that week and then brainstorm together the “silver lining” from the situation. Maybe a new menu item was introduced and did not receive positive feedback. Perhaps there was a blow out between two team members when they didn’t agree on something, Maybe the new hire came for the first few scheduled shifts and then quit.

Whatever the bad situation was, what good thing came from it and what was learned from it that could make the team and business stronger? By looking for the good things in bad situations it enables us to be grateful for growth opportunities.

Building a culture of gratitude within your team can be as creative as you like, and there is no “one size fits all.” If one practice doesn’t work, try another. From team events and outings, to weekly gratitude emails, to shout-outs on your social media page, the possibilities are endless.

It is a small and simple change with little to no cost, and when it comes down to it…it just feels good. Here’s to personal and professional well-being! Cheers!

Image: Gratisography on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership: The Other 10-second Rule

Leadership: The Other 10-second Rule

by David Klemt

Watch face showing seconds and minutes

Those who remember last week’s Friday post will recall that there’s more than one 10-second rule.

Interestingly, this “other” rule also relates to communication.

As we all know, communication is paramount to leading teams and building relationships with others.

Last Week’s Rule

Deceptively simple, last week’s 10-second rule focuses on easing tensions.

If a situation is about to boil over or is already out of control, going silent for 10 seconds can cool things off.

First, shutting up for ten seconds stops the argument cold. Second, it provides time for the person leveraging this tactic to respond rationally.

Third, it humanizes the other person. Rather than seeing an opponent, the person going quiet for ten seconds remembers that this is a team member they’re engaging.

Finally, people who use this rule say going silent tends to snap the other party out of their hostility.

Treating others with respect and dignity, along with encouraging open communication and a free flow of ideas, are hallmarks of a healthy workplace culture.

This Week’s Rule

There are, of course, similarities between this week’s rule and last week’s. Obviously, they both call for a ten-second “timeout” to talking.

Also, they both focus on humanizing the other person in the conversation.

I came across the other 10-second rule on the Accounting Today website. Accountant and author Kyle Walters writes that his rule is also simple: If Walters talks for ten consecutive seconds during a client meeting, he stops to ask an open-ended question. Crucial to the process is that Walters then gives the person answering time to talk.

Now, while Walters applies this to client meetings, it’s useful for conversation in general. As he points out, it breaks the bad habits of dominating conversations; giving off the impression that you’re selfish and don’t care about the others in conversations; and not listening to others.

Anyone who leads a team; needs to develop relationships with suppliers, distributors, contractors, investors, banks, inspectors, etc.; and wants to build relationships with guests knows that listening is crucial.

Sure, ten seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time. However, take the time to actually see how many thoughts you can fire off in ten seconds. You’ll see how much talking for that “small” amount of time can quickly seem domineering if you don’t stop to include others in the conversation.

There’s also the “small” detail that you’re not having a conversation if you’re not listening—you’re just delivering a speech…and it’s probably not a good one.

It takes work to break bad habits. However, the benefit to your personal growth, leadership abilities, and business are worth the effort.

Image: Agê Barros on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership: What is the 10 Second Rule?

Leadership: What is the 10 Second Rule?

by David Klemt

Message icon and emoji in form of white neon sign

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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