Who you allow on your team is one of the most important decisions you make as an owner or operator. You have to safely guard whom you allow to interact with your guests. Many owners and operators overlook this detail, and it can have a monumental impact on their business.
Jim Collins, the author of the book Good to Great makes a profound statement about the importance of hiring and capitalizing on your human capital, “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” You should heed these words. Carelessly spending your human capital is a downward spiral that leads to a trail of issues for a restaurant.
Here are three tips to help you maximize your human capital:
Hire for desire over skill.
This is without a doubt the most common mistake that restaurant owners and operators make: They fall for the resume over the person. Remember, a resume tells you where a person worked, but it does not tell you how they work. Technical skills in a restaurant can be taught; no one is born knowing how to carry three plates stacked up one arm or how to pan-sear scallops. While some talent is natural, those skills are taught and developed by spending hours upon hours honing their craft.
Of course, you want to make sure the person has the experience needed to be qualified for the job. After that, it’s all personality! Make sure to check references and do some due diligence. These days, it’s a good idea to check out people’s social media profiles. How people present themselves on social media can be an eye opener.
If possible, use a behavioral survey tool to understand the person behind the resume. This tool can save you in reduced turnover and helps you understand a person’s natural strengths.
Put people in positions that play to their strengths.
So many times restaurant owners and managers just put people into a job position based on their needs. Need a hostess? They hire a girl who was very friendly during the interview and find out about three weeks later that she is not quite the people person they thought. People put on their best when they need a job.
You need to put people in job positions that allow their strengths to shine. If you have a person as a hostess who would rather work on spreadsheets in the office, then that is the better job fit for her. If you have a very quiet line cook in the back and you want to promote them to a leadership position? Think again and ask if the person even wants to step up into that role. Too many times restaurant operators think they know what the employee wants. If they would have more open conversations, they might uncover a different story. There is a long standing trend in the restaurant industry of the “battlefield promotion” — your supervisor gets fired or quits, and now…tag, you’re it.
You also need to be conscientious of how the dynamics of the team will shape or change when you plug in a new employee. True team dynamics are a balance of strengths and behavioral traits that form a cohesive unit. Get the mix right, and you have a high performance team. If you have an uneven distribution of strengths, then you have a team that is constantly in chaos. Just like the classic cliché, too many cooks spoil the broth.
Appreciate, reward, and grow your people.
Here’s another area where most restaurant owners come up short. You’ve spent considerable time, money, and energy recruiting. You’ve also made an investment in training the new hire. Basically, you’ve created an asset for your business. Smart business owners protect their assets and seek to make sure they grow.
The easiest and most economical way is the classic oldie but goodie: Just say “thank you.” You’d probably be shocked by the lack of appreciation shown to employees in the restaurant industry. Every day, you need to take care of the people who take care of your guests.
If you ever watched an old Western movie, then you’ve probably seen the cowboys heading into town after a long count drive. What’s the first thing they do? They water the horses. If you don’t appreciate your team they will easily leave when someone else shows them a little gratitude.
Growth is another key element in protecting your human capital. Restaurants that want to thrive and not just survive need to develop a training plan and program for every member of their team. The opportunity for personal growth and development is very appealing to employees, especially Millennials. This is a generation that can access the world’s database on their phone. You need to keep them engaged and growing if you want them to stay around long term.
Just like we keep track of assets and liabilities on the balance sheet, you need to look at your human capital the same way. It can be said that recruiting and hiring in the restaurant industry is very similar to mining for gold. You are going to have to dig through a lot of dirt to find a gold nugget. However, when you find one, treat it for what it is…Gold.