October 15, 2014 | By Ron Miller |
Among the biggest challenges every restaurateur faces is turnover. You’re not just competing for customers but good employees as well. A good server or skilled cook can have a dramatic impact on your profits, so how do you attract and retain top talent?
The first thing to understand is that it isn’t just about salary. Yes, money is important but it’s actually not a great motivator. Frederick Herzberg wrote that “the most effective way to motivate work behavior is by focusing on how people feel about their work itself.” (Katzenbach, Khan, 2010)
Don’t believe it? Think about members of the Navy Seals, Green Berets and Army Rangers. They’re poorly paid but are probably the most highly motivated people in the world. Why is that? For them, the biggest motivator is pride and their emotional connection to their team.
Can you tap into that for your restaurant?
Creating an emotional connection between your employees and the business won’t happen by accident. You need to have a well thought out plan, and you can start today.
Emotional connections begin when employees admire their leader. Are you admirable? By that I mean, are you modeling the behavior of an admirable leader? Some things to think about are the hours you work and being in the trenches with your employees.
Years ago I worked in a printing plant with 300 employees. The general manager was the best leader I ever worked for. He knew every employee’s name and could step into any job in the plant, regardless of how dirty it was. He sure had everyone’s respect.
Consider taking shifts and showing your employees your mastery of the tasks.
Taking pride in your job is a fundamental motivator. You don’t have to be a Navy Seal to feel like your job makes a difference. When your employees do something that makes a customer’s experience better, thank them. Credible, informal praise, even for regular tasks can go a long ways to making your employees take pride in their work.
Employees will be willing to take a bullet for you if they feel like you would take a bullet for them. Trust your employees with the authority to make decisions in their jobs and then stick up for them if it comes into question.
I remember one night when I was waiting tables. I had a group come in that was angry before they ever walked in. They were verbally abusive to other employees and to customers at other tables. It was so bad that people were leaving. The situation was only getting worse so I finally went to the table and asked them to leave. They demanded to see the manager who overruled me. He ended up buying them their meals and drinks. I doubt the manager won the respect of these customers and he lost a lot of my respect that night.
Your best employees need a growth plan. They need to see a path that will allow them to move into greater responsibility, respect and earning potential. Sit down with your best employees and be up front with these things. Map out a plan and commit that you will help them achieve their goals.
Hiring and Retaining Stars
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Katzenbach, J., & Khan, Z. (2010, April 6). Money Is Not The Best Motivator – Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/06/money-motivation-pay-leadership-managing-employees.html
Howard, H. (2010, December 6). 5 Secrets for Starting and Running a Successful Restaurant Chain | OPEN Forum. Retrieved from https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/5-secrets-for-starting-and-running-a-successful-restaurant-chain-hannah-howard/
Lemkin, J. (2014, April 23). How to Retain Top Employees: 5 Things to Do Now | Inc.com. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/jason-lemkin/how-to-retain-star-employees.html