Hire Power: The New Basics of Building High-Performing Teams
“At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” –Larry Bossidy, CEO AlliedSignal
The marketplace for foodservice labor is both highly competitive and very crowded.
Statistics offer hope: the current Millennial Generation is some 80 million strong, surpassing even the vaunted 72 million Baby Boomers of 1946-1962, and colleges expect their enrollment to swell to historic levels in 2016 as the largest number of Americans who are aged 18 will hit university age simultaneously. But just because the numbers offer hope, remember that “hope” is not a strategy. All those Millennials may be of job age, but that doesn’t mean they’ll choose foodservice over retail, Home Depot, or even choosing to stay unemployed. We need to make a strong case for our industry in terms of what we teach and develop if we are to stock our talent pipeline and bench strength with future leaders. Otherwise we’re endless victims of economic cycles predicated on variable birth rates and driven by job-seeking supply and demand. Here are a few ideas on finding keepers and turning them into long-term assets:
Grow your own. Reassess and reevaluate everything all of your crew and manager development tools, from your onboarding process to the training materials to your pre-shift meetings (which should be mandatory, not optional every single shift.) Find a way to make your development resources richer, better, more effective. Benchmark the best demonstrated practices of your best team members, and incorporate that insight into your training materials. Teach everyone something new every shift.
Recruit strategically not generically. Seek talent where it gathers, and aim for people who are already motivated and wired to succeed. Instead of just participating in local high school job fairs, sponsor or recruit from the school’s National Honor Society or Link Crew. Align your company with a local Boy Scout Troop and recruit from the Order of the Arrow honorees (Scouting’s National Honor Society.) Look for affable, eager and self-directed people from these groups that you can develop into tomorrow’s superstars.
Don’t recruit or train to yesterday’s competencies. Identify and detail the top five performance-based criteria necessary to be successful in every position in your restaurant. Determine what average performance and what stellar performance looks like for each role. Develop your current teams to be proficient in those key performance-based criteria. Now look two years down the road. What skills may be critical then that are only peripheral now? For instance, if you have two GM candidates with similar expertise, I’d promote the one with proven social media savvy and technology-enabled training skills.
Assess your ABCDs. Consider all the nuances of the four levels of employees. There are two kinds of A players. An A player in a B company is likely to be a B player in an A company. They will work down—or up—to the talent that surrounds them. There are two kinds of B players. One is someone who is a B player in the overall foodservice marketplace, but they could be an A player (or even a C player) in your company depending on your talent pool. An organization can also outgrow A players. For instance, an A-Level Area Manager in a $3 million foodservice company can quickly regress to a C in a $50 million company if their skillsets don’t grow. C-Level managers don’t hire A-level team members. They hire D-level associates so they look better as a manager. As author Brad Smart says in Topgrading: “C players suck the creative energy out of your organization. They fail to prevent problems and then can’t fix them. A tremendous amount of your time is wasted undoing what C players did or doing what they should have done.” There are two types of C-players: one who can be developed into a B and one who will only ever be a C. Know the difference.
Simply put, your most competitive strategy going forward is out-teaching the competition and doing so with habitual consistency. It is cheaper to train than it is to recruit. Consistency in operations is the most effective marketing strategy. Consistency in hiring, training and development is the most effective profitability strategy.
Every day that we spend not improving our people, performance and products is a wasted day.
Jim Sullivan is a keynote speaker at foodservice leadership conferences worldwide. His newest book Fundamentals is available at Amazon or here at Sullivision.com.